JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa has identified yearend school parties as COVID-19 superspreader events and ordered all students who have attended them to immediately go into a 10-day quarantine.
Called rage parties, the celebrations to mark graduation from secondary school are private functions held by promoters who charge entrance fees to students who must be 18. Hundreds attend to dance and jive to music and alcohol is sold.
Some rage parties have already been blamed for spreading COVID-19, as South Africa is experiencing a renewed wave of the disease. President Cyril Ramaphosa last week announced increased restrictions in the Eastern Cape province, which he said was a hotspot for the virus.
“It is clear that in these entertainment activities, most participants are not constantly conscious of good behavior," Health Minister Zweli Mkizhe said in a statement.
"This means that our youth is not only exposing themselves to the risk of contracting COVID-19, but they also put the lives of their parents, grandparents and other loved ones living with co-morbidities at risk,” Mkhize said.
He urged all students who attended the events to take COVID-19 tests.
South Africa's 7-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen over the past two weeks from 4.01 new cases per 100,000 people on Nov. 22 to 6.47 new cases per 100,000 people on Dec. 6. The rate of deaths has not increased so dramatically, with South Africa's 7-day rolling average of daily deaths rising over the past two weeks from 0.16 deaths per 100,000 people on Nov. 22 to 0.18 deaths per 100,000 people on Dec. 6.
Ramaphosa last week announced tougher restrictions in areas where COVID-19 is rapidly increasing, particularly the metropolitan area of Nelson Mandela Bay, including the city of Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape province.
New restrictions in the Eastern Cape include limitations on the sale of alcohol, a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people, a night-time curfew and a ban on alcohol consumption in public spaces.
With the festive season approaching, Ramaphosa has warned that people’s failure to adhere to measures like social distancing and wearing masks will result in a resurgence of the virus across the country.