Amid COVID-19 surge, South Africa delays reopening schools


Faced with a rapid resurgence of COVID-19 overwhelming the country’s hospitals and driven by a more infectious virus variant, South Africa has delayed reopening its schools

JOHANNESBURG — Faced with a rapid resurgence of COVID-19 overwhelming the country’s hospitals and driven by a more infectious variant of the virus, South Africa has delayed reopening its schools.

The variant is having far-reaching consequences for Africa’s most developed nation as several countries trying to prevent its spread have stopped or reduced flights with South Africa.

South Africa has the highest prevalence of COVID-19 in Africa with a cumulative total of more than 1.3 million confirmed cases, including 36,851 deaths.

In the last 24 hours, the country has recorded 13,973 new infections and 348 deaths.

South Africa’s 7-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from 22 new cases per 100,000 people on Jan. 2 to 26 new cases per 100,000 people on Jan. 16. according to Johns Hopkins University.

The department has not released statistics of how many teachers or students have succumbed to COVID-19, two teachers are confirmed to have died recently during the marking of last year’s examination.

“Some of our markers have passed away, while others withdrew from marking due to fear and anxiety, but also because some of their own family members have tested positive,” said Mhauli.

South Africa’s education officials are on Monday expected to announce plans for universities and colleges, which closed last year as part of restrictions.

The Dubai-based airline Emirates has suspended all scheduled flights to South Africa until Jan. 28 “due to operational reasons,” it said in a statement.

South Africa itself has closed 20 land borders with the neighboring countries of Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Mozambique as part of its efforts to curb the spread of the virus during its second wave.

South Africa has also reintroduced a nighttime curfew, banned the sale of all alcoholic beverages and prohibited large gatherings.



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