More COVID-19 infections expected: President warns

President Cyril Ramaphosa File Image GCIS.

As the coun­try has lift­ed the lid on some eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty and peo­ple are mov­ing around, South Africa must brace itself for the increase of COVID-19 infec­tions.

This was the key mes­sage deliv­ered by Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa dur­ing a vis­it to KwaZu­lu-Natal on Tues­day to assess the province’s COVID-19 response.

The Pres­i­dent was engag­ing with the provin­cial gov­ern­ment and stake­hold­ers on the province’s response strate­gies and progress being made to flat­ten the curve of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic.

He said Lev­el 5 lock­down had done an impres­sive deal to put the brakes on the wave of infec­tions that was meant to go up expo­nen­tial­ly. How­ev­er, the lock­down lev­eled it off.

“In that regard, we could ensure that with social dis­tanc­ing, it lessen chances of infec­tions, and that has paved us the way. In a way it was get­ting us pre­pared for a spate of infec­tions that will con­tin­ue ris­ing,” he said.

While Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa said he was sat­is­fied that KZN had done a great deal to pre­pare for the chal­lenge, the Pres­i­dent said he would still like to see the province get­ting more ICU beds in order to deal with what is still yet to come.

“We’re informed that the worst is still com­ing. We are going to get more peo­ple who are infect­ed,” he said.

“But the impor­tant thing is that we need to ensure that we lessen the pace in which these infec­tions are going to take place.”

He said this will be done by get­ting ready by these quar­an­tine facil­i­ties, ensure that peo­ple con­tin­ue with social dis­tanc­ing, peo­ple con­tin­ue to wash their hands, and informed through our actions wear­ing masks and lim­it­ing num­bers of peo­ple who gath­er in social spaces.

“KZN is very high­ly pop­u­lat­ed. Pro­fes­sor Karim and his col­leagues who are deal­ing with this dis­ease in a sci­en­tif­ic view inform us that like South Africa, we must expect that the rate of infec­tions is going to increase,” he added.

Pro­fes­sor Sal­im Abdool Karim chairs the gov­ern­men­t’s advi­so­ry com­mit­tee on coro­n­avirus and is a lead­ing clin­i­cal infec­tious dis­eases epi­demi­ol­o­gist.

Pres­i­dent com­mends Min­is­ter Mkhize

Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa also heaped prais­es on how Min­is­ter of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, has guid­ed the coun­try through the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic.

“What he has been doing is tru­ly amaz­ing… giv­ing guid­ance and lead­er­ship and just intel­lec­tu­al capa­bil­i­ty and sci­en­tif­ic as well.”

He said the words of praise com­ing from inter­na­tion­al bod­ies such as the World Health Organ­i­sa­tion have been because of Mkhize’s stel­lar per­for­mance.

“I’m not say­ing this because I’m South African or pres­i­dent but, when they look at us, they tru­ly see a shin­ing exam­ple of how coun­tries should have respond­ed to the chal­lenge of COVID-19,” he said.

“We’re by no means out of the woods. We still deep in the woods,” he added.

But, he said the way that Mkhize has led the coun­try has been noth­ing short of amaz­ing.

“Also, the impor­tant thing is that we have relied on sci­ence. We haven’t been fly­ing by the seat of my pants and thumb suck­ing every­thing. The fact that he enlist­ed top-class sci­en­tists and doc­tors as we saw, led by Prof Karim, has posi­tioned us very well because we haven’t been send­ing out con­fus­ing mes­sages.”

The econ­o­my under great stress

Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa also applaud­ed the man­ag­ing of the State of Dis­as­ter, led by Co-oper­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tion­al Affairs Min­is­ter, Dr Nkosazana Dlami­ni-Zuma.

While he is pleased by these aspects, he said this rais­es an impor­tant hur­dle and that’s the econ­o­my.

“The way we have respond­ed to the chal­lenge is the way we should respond to the next chal­lenge we’re going to face, the eco­nom­ic way.”

He acknowl­edged that COVID-19 brought the econ­o­my to its knees.

“Our econ­o­my as we speak now is under a great deal of stress and chal­lenge. We now must col­lec­tive­ly respond to how we’re going to deal with the econ­o­my.

“COVID-19 has dealt a huge blow to our econ­o­my and we now need to address that econ­o­my because the econ­o­my sus­tains lives and our lives as South Africans revolves around eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty and we need to focus on that.”

New econ­o­my post-COVID-19

He said the pan­dem­ic gives South Africans an oppor­tu­ni­ty to look at how the coun­try recon­structs the econ­o­my post-COVID-19.

“I’m char­ac­ter­is­ing the Coro­n­avirus after effect as being like a post-war sit­u­a­tion. We’ve been fight­ing the invis­i­ble ene­my and we must now start plan­ning for a post-war sit­u­a­tion.”

He said this gives rise to a num­ber of chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties that need to be addressed.

“We must begin to put in place the pil­lars of the new econ­o­my. We can­not con­tin­ue in the same old way, pos­si­bly iden­ti­fy­ing new sec­tors going for­ward and rebuild­ing those bad­ly affect­ed by COVID-19.”

He fore­casts that many peo­ple will lose their jobs and there­fore the gov­ern­ment needs to find and cre­ate jobs.

“We need to come up with a clear build­ing strat­e­gy and the build­ing blocks are already in place and we need to put them togeth­er.”

He envi­sions an eco­nom­ic future where growth is inclu­sive and empow­er­ing to the young peo­ple and women and Blacks.


“Rad­i­cal eco­nom­ic trans­for­ma­tion must under­pin the eco­nom­ic future and we will need to craft that going for­ward.”

He said this also requires gov­ern­ment and state-owned enti­ties to func­tion in a way that is devel­op­men­tal, eth­i­cal, and inno­v­a­tive. –

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President Cyril Ramaphosa GCIS.

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