COVID-19 UPDATE: President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a raft of unprecedented interventions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa.
- The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the country has risen to 61, with the number is expected to rise in the coming days and weeks. President Ramaphosa said it is concerning that we are now dealing with the internal transmission of the virus.
- During an emergency Cabinet meeting held on Sunday in Pretoria, the coronavirus pandemic was declared a national disaster to enable the government to have an integrated and coordinated disaster mechanism that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak.
- Schools will be closed from Wednesday and will remain closed until after the Easter Weekend in order to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Ramaphosa said to compensate for this, mid-year school holidays will be shortened by a week. The government is working closely with colleges, universities and other public facilities such as Parliament, prisons, police stations, and military installations to intensify hygiene control. Measures and responses around institutes of higher learning are expected to be announced by the relevant minister in due course and following consultations.
- A travel ban will be imposed from Wednesday on foreign citizens who come from Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, United States, Germany, United Kingdom, and China as the coronavirus continues to spread across the world. Visas to visitors from those countries and previously granted visas have been revoked. South Africans have been advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, the US, UK, and other high-risk areas.
- The government has further discouraged all non-essential domestic travel, particularly by air, rail, taxis, and bus as part of government’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 on home soil. President Ramaphosa said it is essential that South Africans minimize the risk of the spread of this virus by limiting contact amongst groups of people. The President called for social distancing and said, therefore, gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited. He said mass celebrations of upcoming national days such as Human Rights Day and other large government events will be canceled.
In a live broadcast on television, radio and online platforms, President Ramaphosa said the interventions were aimed at protecting South African citizens and the economy and reducing the impact of what he said was a medical emergency far graver than what has been experienced in over a century.