The pandemic and restrictions imposed to contain it have devastated Africa's most industrialized economy and the extension of curbs that came into effect at the height of the holiday season bode ill for efforts to engineer a rebound.
"The pandemic in our country is now at its most devastating".
One gets the feeling that January 15, initially earmarked as the date that alert level 3 would run until, isn't going to see an easing in restrictions.
"The coronavirus storm is far fiercer and much more destructive than anything we have known before".
"We must not let up on any of the health protocols we have been observing", he said.
Ramaphosa also said that the country will remain under level 3 lockdown that was put in place on 28 December 2020.
The president elucidated the decision on the border closure following severe congestion at border posts with neighbouring countries, especially Zimbabwe and Mozambique, as thousands of people tried to re-enter South Africa in the past fortnight. But people will still be allowed to enter the country for the transportation of fuel and cargo, amongst exceptions. The two borders mere days ago experienced long queues with hundreds of frustrated holidaymakers braving long queues before they could be processed for entry back into South Africa.
To reduce congestion and the high risk of transmission, (the) cabinet has decided that the 20 land ports of entry that are now open will be closed until February 15 for general entry and departure, Ramaphosa said.
"If anything, the new variant means that we must be more diligent, more compliant and more consistent in following the necessary health guidelines".