by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – THE South African government has extended by two weeks a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension on Thursday evening, two weeks after the initial, ongoing, lockdown came into effect.
The 21-day lockdown was set to lapse on Thursday next week.
“This evening, I stand before you to ask you to endure even longer,” Ramaphosa made the latest appeal in a televised address to the nation.
“I have to ask you to make even greater sacrifices so that our country may survive this crisis and so that tens of thousands of lives may be saved,” he added.
“After careful consideration of the available evidence, the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to extend the nation-wide lockdown by a further two weeks beyond the initial 21 days.”
Ramaphosa said while it was too early to make a definitive analysis of the progression of the disease in South Africa, there was sufficient evidence to show that the lockdown was working.
“It confirms that our decision to declare a national state of disaster and to institute a nation-wide lockdown was correct and it was timely.”
According to the president, in the two weeks before the lockdown, the average daily increase in new cases was around 42 percent but since the start of the lockdown, the average daily increase had been around 4 percent.
“We are only at the beginning of a monumental struggle that demands our every resource and our every effort. We cannot relax. We cannot be complacent,” the president cautioned.
He conceded the impact the lockdown would have on the struggling economy.
“I am keenly aware of the impact this will have on our economy,” he said.
“But I know, as you do, that unless we take these difficult measures now, unless we hold to this course for a little longer, the coronavirus pandemic will engulf, and ultimately consume, our country.”
Ramaphosa announced an intensified public health response to slow down and reduce infections.
He also outlined a comprehensive package of economic support measures to assist businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic.
The continent’s most advanced economy, South Africa is also the most impacted by COVID-19.
By Thursday, the country had confirmed 1 845 cases and 18 deaths.
– CAJ News