South Africa has announced a three-week lockdown due to coronavirus. President Cyril Ramaphosa officially announced that the lockdown will be in force from Thursday for a period of three weeks.
In a televised address, Ramaphosa informed citizens about the 21-day lockdown and urged the country to “urgently and dramatically” escalate its response. “Immediate, swift and extraordinary action is required if we are to avoid human costs of this virus,” said Ramaphosa, adding that if the nation failed to act swiftly, it could face “a human catastrophe of enormous proportions.”
South Africa declared a state of national emergency after the total number of coronavirus cases crossed 400. Given that the country has a huge population that is immunocompromised due to HIV and tuberculosis, the spread of the virus needs to be contained at all costs. “The action we are taking now will have lasting economic costs,” said Ramaphosa. “But we are sure that the cost of not acting now will be far greater.”
What happens during the lockdown?
During the 21-day period of the lockdown, people will not be allowed to leave their homes except to buy food, medical supplies, collect social grants or seek medical attention. All shops and businesses will be closed except for pharmacies, supermarkets, petrol stations, and health care providers as well as laboratories, banks, and other essential financial services.
Essential personnel will be exempt, these include health care workers, emergency and security personnel necessary to the response. “We are a nation of one and we are surely going to prevail,” said Ramaphosa, encouraging citizens to act in the interest of the nation.
After declaring a state of national disaster sometime last week, South Africa prohibited travel from high-risk countries including Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China. The president also ordered the closure of half of the country’s land ports and schools and banned public gatherings of more than 100 people across the country.