JOHANNESBURG

Announcing new measures to stem the spread of COVID-19, South Africa’s president also said 391 public healthcare workers in the country have died from the virus.

In a televised address late Monday, Cyril Ramaphosa said over 38,000 public sector healthcare workers tested positive for coronavirus and nearly 5,000 of them were admitted to hospitals.

“As a nation, we owe so much to these brave and dedicated people and to their families, for without them, we would not have come this far,” he said.

A second wave of COVID-19 hit South Africa in the middle of last week, according to the Health Ministry.

“As we confront the second wave of infections, we must do everything we can to support and protect our health workers,” Ramaphosa said, adding that unless the public acts responsibly by adhering to all basic precautions, they will face a bleak New Year.

“This festive season, I am asking you to keep your celebrations small and avoid crowds,” Ramaphosa said, announcing new restrictions to help curb the spread of the virus.

“The sale of alcohol from retail outlets will only be permitted between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday to Thursday,” he said.

Ramaphosa said beaches and public parks in areas with high cases of COVID-19 will be closed from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3.

He also announced that the hours of the curfew will now be longer, starting at 11 p.m. and ending at 4 a.m. He banned all post-funeral gatherings.

South Africa is the most-affected country on the continent and the 18th most-affected country globally with 866,127 confirmed cases and 23,451 deaths.

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