President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a 21-day nationwide lockdown amid the rapid rise in the COVID-19 infection rates in the country. The Department of Health earlier issued a statement putting the number of infections in the country at a staggering 402.

The new measures will add further restrictions to the current ones which were pronounced a week ago under the state of national disaster.

They effectively restrict the movements of citizens with the exception of essential personnel such as those in the medical profession, the military, police, persons involved in food production, and some patients; among others.

A decision by the National Command Council chaired by Ramaphosa, the lockdown has been implemented under the Disaster Management Act.

The President’s full speech is in the video below: 

 

‘Dramatic response’

Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to strictly comply with the new measures, citing concerns in particular, about the living conditions of impoverished communities and those who are in poor health.

“Our analysis of the progress of the epidemic informs us that we need to urgently and dramatically escalate our response,” he said.

To enforce compliance, the President says the military will be deployed to assist the South African Police Services.

The government has set up a 24-hour public hotline number which members of the public are urged to make use of if they suspect they may have contracted the virus.

Warning against panic buying and price hikes

President Ramaphosa has also called on South Africans to avoid panic buying, which has been on the rise since he announced the state of national disaster last week. Most big retailers were left with empty shelves as South Africans stocked up on different items.

Items that such as toilet paper, hand sanitisers and non-perishable foods have been the most popular as citizens move to ensure they don’t contract the virus, which is best prevented by good hygiene.

Some shops came under heavy criticism after they began hiking prices of basic goods, something the president warned against in his speech.

While most shops will remain closed during the lockdown period, supermarkets and fuel stations are among those that will remain open.

“Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open. We will publish a full list of the categories of businesses that should remain open,” said Ramaphosa.

 

Below is an outline of the safety measures to be taken to prevent infection: 


COVID-19 Safety Precautions by SABC Digital News

The lockdown will come into effect on at midnight on 26 March until midnight 16 April.