President Ramaphosa of South Africa has said that the lockdown including closing of the country’s borders has slowed the progression of the pandemic.
This week, the World Health Organisation commended South Africa’s swift interventions to limit the spread of the virus. As of Thursday, the country had 3 953 COVID-19 infections, with 75 confirmed deaths.
The President who was giving an update on the pandemic, said while a nation-wide lockdown was probably the most effective means to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, it cannot be sustained indefinitely.
“Our people need to eat. They need to earn a living. Companies need to be able to produce and to trade, they need to generate revenue and keep their employees in employment,” he said.
The pandemic was declared a national disaster on 15 March. This was in an effort to delay the spread of the virus.
“We have sought to avoid a massive surge in infections and an uncontrollable increase in the number of people needing medical care. Our approach has been based on the principles of social distancing, restriction of movement and stringent basic hygiene practices,” he said.
By delaying the spread of the virus, the President said, government has had time to prepare the country’s health facilities and mobilise essential medical supplies needed to meet the inevitable increase in infections.
“And it is in so doing, that we hope to save tens of thousands of lives. There is clear evidence that the lockdown has been working.”
NCCC to determine alert level
To ensure that government’s response to the pandemic can be as precise and targeted as possible, President Ramaphosa said there will be a national level and separate levels for each province, district and metro in the country.
The National Coronavirus Command Council is expected to determine the alert level based on an assessment of the infection rate and the capacity of South Africa’s health system to provide care to those who need it.
“We have undertaken a detailed exercise to classify the different parts of the economy according to the risk of transmission in that sector, the expected impact of the lockdown, the economic contribution of the sector and the effect on livelihoods,” he said.
Ministers to provide details
Ministers are expected to provide details on the classification of industries and how each is affected at each level. Industry bodies will be given an opportunity to consider these details and, should they wish, to make submissions before new regulations are gazetted.
Evidence at government’s disposal indicates that 75 percent of confirmed Coronavirus cases are found in just six metro municipalities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Cape Town, Buffalo City, EThekwini and Mangaung.
President Ramaphosa said it was, therefore, essential that everything was done to restrict the movement of people and reduce human interaction.
“Ultimately, it is our own actions, as individuals, that will determine how quickly the virus spreads. If we all adhere to instructions and follow public health guidelines, we will keep the virus under control and will not need to reinstate the most drastic restrictions