To combat the surge in the number of cases of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday reimposed restrictions for two weeks.

South Africa, the worst-hit country on the continent, “is facing a massive resurgence of infection,” the president said in a televised address to the nation, according to AFP inputs.

“Our health facilities are stretched to the limit… ICU beds are in short supply,” he said as he placed the country on alert level four, just one level below a full lockdown.

ALSO READ | COVID-19: How vaccines work against the Delta variant

Under the rules of the reimposed lockdown, all gatherings, except for funerals where numbers will be capped at 50, will be banned. The sale of alcohol will also be banned.

Meanwhile, the prevailing nighttime curfew has been lengthened by an hour.

Eateries and restaurants can no longer serve sit-down meals, and will only be allowed to sell food for take-away or delivery.

Authorities say the peak of the third wave — fuelled by the Delta variant first identified in India — will surpass that of earlier waves as the country struggles to quickly roll out vaccinations.

“We are in the grip of a devastating wave that by all indications seems like it will be worse than those that preceded it.

“The peak of this third wave looks set to be higher than the previous two,” he said.

South Africa now counts 1,928,897 cases after recording 15,036 cases on Sunday, a drop from the previous day when 18,762 new infections were diagnosed

At least 59,900 of those cases have been fatal.