President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nationwide lockdown all over South Africa. This comes after the number of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 has increased six-fold in just eight days, from 61 cases to 402 cases.
Ramaphosa said it is clear from the development of the disease in other countries and from our own modelling that immediate, swift and extraordinary action is required if we are to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportions in our country.
“Our fundamental task at this moment is to contain the spread of the disease. I am concerned that a rapid rise in infections will stretch our health services beyond what we can manage and many people will not be able to access the care they need. We must therefore do everything within our means to reduce the overall number of infections and to delay the spread of infection over a longer period, what is known as flattening the curve of infections”.
The National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to enforce a nationwide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April. This means that all South Africans will have to stay at home for at least 3 weeks. This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
The president has encouraged every citizen to adhere strictly and without exception to the regulations that have been put in place. Coronavirus is extremely dangerous for a country like South Africa, with a significant number of people with suppressed immunity due to HIV and TB. Additionally with the high levels of poverty, malnutrition and unemployment, South Africa can ill afford further exponential increases in transmissions of COVID-19.
Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect social grant. Grocery stores and the banking sector will continue to operate.
The categories of people who will be exempted from the lockdown are health workers, public and private sectors, emergency personnel security services such as the police, traffic officers and military medical personnel, soldiers.
“I have accordingly directed the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) be deployed to support South African Police Service (SAPS) in ensuring that the measures we are announcing are implemented” said Ramaphosa.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will act and arrest those who are found committing corruption during this time.