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But the greatest blow we have suffered since the start of this pandemic are the confirmed deaths of 20,011 people due to COVID-19.

While we have a relatively low fatality rate compared to many other countries, we cannot begin to calculate the loss and anguish that these deaths have caused.

Since the beginning of this crisis, our goal was both to save lives and protect livelihoods.

As we rebuild our country in the midst of this pandemic, this must remain our overriding concern.

Although infections have stabilised, many people are still getting infected every day and we remain vulnerable.

We are seeing how quickly and how dramatically infections can rise in a number of countries.

We are also seeing how health systems can become overwhelmed in the face of rising infections.

The rise in infections in some of these countries has led to the reimposition of tough restrictions.

We have also seen in other countries how a resurgence can dash hopes for a swift economic recovery.

We must do everything we can to prevent this from happening in our country.

If we are to prevent a resurgence of infections in our country there are a few areas that we must pay attention to.

The first is the situation in the Eastern Cape, which is showing signs of a resurgence.

In the last week, the number of new cases in the province was 50% higher than the week before.

And the total number of new cases in the last 14 days was around 145% higher than the previous 14 days.

These increases are being driven by massive spikes in the Nelson Mandela Metro and the Sarah Baartman District in particular.

For the last month, there has been a sustained upward increase in hospital admissions in the province.

The evidence suggests that the increases in the Eastern Cape could have been triggered by outbreaks in institutions of higher learning such as universities, schools and attendance by people at large gatherings.

When this is combined with poor adherence to social distancing, mask wearing and other poor hygiene measures, the environment for rising infections is set.

With many people moving between the Eastern Cape and other provinces – particularly the Western Cape – it is a matter of time before this surge spreads to other parts of the country.

We therefore need to take measures to contain the rise in infections.

In response to the rising infections, we are implementing the resurgence plan that has been developed together with the surge team deployed to South Africa by the World Health Organisation.

Interventions include primary health care outreach teams to intensify contact tracing, daily community mobilisation, ensuring the readiness of health facilities, and being ready to respond to possible clusters outbreaks.

We will be working closely with the provincial government, municipalities and other institutions in the Eastern Cape in the coming days and weeks to ensure that this surge is contained and managed.

What we are witnessing in the Eastern Cape should be a wake-up call to all of us, that we cannot relax and we cannot be complacent.

We are therefore also closely monitoring developments in areas that are experiencing higher than average rates of new infections.

The areas where we are experiencing higher than average rates of new infections include Lejweleputswa and Mangaung in the Free State, Frances Baard and Pixley ka Seme in the Northern Cape, and the Garden Route and Cape Town metro in the Western Cape.

To ensure that we can keep all the necessary prevention measures in place, we are, as required by the Disaster Management Act, extending the National State of Disaster by another month to the 15th of December 2020.

The second area of concern that we need to pay attention to is the upcoming festive season, during which many South Africans travel to other parts of the country and where people tend to gather socially.

These activities, if not undertaken responsibly, pose the greatest immediate threat to our management of the pandemic.

But we can avoid a second wave if we each play our part, if we remember what we need to do to keep ourselves and others safe.

From the big cities and metros to the smallest towns and villages, we all know about this virus.

From the Grade R learner to the factory worker, from the university student to the grandparent at home, we all know how the coronavirus can be spread.

So what I am asking of each and every one of you this evening is not something new. I am asking you to do what you know must be done.

We know that this virus is transmitted when we are in close contact with other people.

Let us remember that it is transmitted in small particles from our nose and mouth when we talk, cough, sneeze or even breathe heavily.

We also all know what we need to do to protect ourselves and those around us.

A cloth mask, worn over the nose and mouth, is still one of our best defences.

I know this can sometimes be a hassle.

Masks can be hot and uncomfortable.

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