By Agencies and Zimbabwe Digital News
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced stricter measures to deal with the spread of the coronavirus. Addressing the nation on Monday evening, the president said that the country would urgently and dramatically escalate its response to the spread of the virus.
He announced that a nation-wide 21-day lockdown would come into effect on midnight on 26 March until midnight on 16 April.
All shops and businesses would be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers, Ramaphosa said.
Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.
The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown are the following: health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other persons necessary for our response to the pandemic.
“This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” the president said in his address.
“While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater.”
South Africa reported a sharp jump in confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday to 402, from less than 50 just over a week ago, as the army prepared to deploy in each of the country’s nine provinces, according to an official document seen by Reuters.
The country’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced the steep rise in cases in a statement on Monday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a national state of disaster and imposed measures such as travel bans to curb the spread of coronavirus. He is expected to address the nation later on Monday on new measures to mitigate its impact.
A South African Army memorandum seen by Reuters on Monday detailed plans to deploy at least an infantry “sub-unit” to each of the country’s nine provinces and two in Gauteng, which includes the capital Pretoria and commercial hub of Johannesburg, where roughly half of the infections have been reported.
The deployment will last from March 23 for 21 days, but could be extended for a further three months, the memorandum said.
Siphiwe Dlamini, spokesman for the South African National Defence Force, said he would not comment on any plans to deploy the army until Ramaphosa’s address.
The memorandum states that army staff may arrest someone they see committing a crime.
South Africa confirmed its first coronavirus case on March 5, and analysts expect Ramaphosa to announce stricter measures to slow its spread in the country of around 58 million people.
Comment on this report: Call/text/whatsapp: (+27) 834767918