Nationwide lockdown extended by two weeks

The 21-day nation­wide lock­down to curb the spread of COVID-19 has been extend­ed by a fur­ther two weeks until the end of April.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa announced the exten­sion in a tele­vised address on Thurs­day evening, as the num­ber of con­firmed cas­es climbed to 1 934 cas­es.

“If we end the lock­down too soon or too abrupt­ly, we risk a mas­sive and uncon­trol­lable resur­gence of the dis­ease. We risk revers­ing the gains we have made over the last few weeks, and ren­der­ing mean­ing­less the great sac­ri­fices that have been made.

“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,” said the Pres­i­dent.

The President’s address fol­lows a meet­ing of the Nation­al Coro­n­avirus Com­mand Coun­cil on Wednes­day and con­sul­ta­tions the Pres­i­dent held with pre­miers and polit­i­cal par­ties and var­i­ous social part­ners dur­ing the course of today.

With the severe restric­tions on move­ment and many dai­ly free­doms, the Pres­i­dent thanked South Africans for their adher­ence to reg­u­la­tions and their com­mit­ment to sav­ing lives.

“For your coop­er­a­tion, for your com­mit­ment and above all for your patience, I wish to thank you per­son­al­ly. I wish to thank you for reaf­firm­ing to each oth­er and to the world that we South Africans are a peo­ple who come togeth­er and unite at moments of great cri­sis,” he said.

The exten­sion comes as the num­ber of con­firmed cas­es world­wide surged to 1.5 mil­lion — with over 90 000 peo­ple los­ing their lives to the dis­ease.

In a plea to South Africans, the Pres­i­dent called on cit­i­zens to endure the lock­down a bit longer.

While it is too ear­ly to make a defin­i­tive analy­sis of the pro­gres­sion of the dis­ease in South Africa, the Pres­i­dent said there is suf­fi­cient evi­dence to show that the lock­down is work­ing.

Since the lock­down came into effect, the rate at which new cas­es have been iden­ti­fied here in South Africa has slowed sig­nif­i­cant­ly.

In the two weeks before the lock­down, the aver­age dai­ly increase in new cas­es was around 42%. Since the start of the lock­down, the aver­age dai­ly increase has been around 4%.

Gov­ern­ment ramps up mass screen­ing and test­ing

Since the 21-day lock­down, gov­ern­ment has refined and inten­si­fied its pub­lic health strat­e­gy to man­age the Coro­n­avirus.

In the last week, gov­ern­ment devel­oped its screen­ing and test­ing method­ol­o­gy in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try.

Over the next two weeks, gov­ern­ment will roll out its com­mu­ni­ty screen­ing and test­ing pro­gramme across all provinces, focus­ing in par­tic­u­lar, on high­ly vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties.

Those who test pos­i­tive and can­not self-iso­late at home will be iso­lat­ed at spe­cial facil­i­ties that have been iden­ti­fied and are now being equipped.

To ensure that its strate­gies are effec­tive­ly coor­di­nat­ed and to ensure they are informed by com­pre­hen­sive, real-time data, gov­ern­ment has estab­lished the COVID-19 Infor­ma­tion Cen­tre at the Coun­cil for Sci­en­tif­ic and Indus­tri­al Research (CSIR).

This world-class cen­tre will keep track of all screen­ing, test­ing, iso­la­tion and hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion through­out the coun­try.

”It is already iden­ti­fy­ing infec­tion hotspots. It is fol­low­ing the spread and the sever­i­ty of the dis­ease, and enabling us to move our focus and resources where they are most need­ed,” said the Pres­i­dent.

East­er Week­end

With the exten­sion announced on the eve of the East­er Week­end, the Pres­i­dent called on South Africans to embrace the spir­it of East­er which is a mes­sage of hope, recov­ery and of rebirth.

“As we walk this road togeth­er, as we strug­gle to defeat this pan­dem­ic, we remain strong and unit­ed and resolved.

“Much is being asked of you, far more than should ever be asked. But we know that this is a mat­ter of sur­vival, and we dare not fail. We shall recov­er. We shall over­come,” said the Pres­i­dent. –

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President Cyril Ramaphosa GCIS.

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