The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) says it will seek clarity from the government on the exact categories of media workers that may be excluded from the national lockdown.

Sanef welcomed that the media will form part of those exempt from the measures.

Sanef says this will ensure important information is disseminated to the public in the battle against the Coronavirus.

Executive Director Kate Skinner says they will be seeking further information from the Presidency and GCIS. “Sanef welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s historic speech Monday night announcing a lockdown.”

“We know the categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown and we know that journalists are part of this. Sanef believes that it is essential that journalists are allowed to do their jobs so that ordinary citizens have a clear understanding of what is happening in this country so that we can contain and fight the disease.”

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

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.

There are 554 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in South Africa and no reported deaths.

There are over 370 000 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the globe, with over 16 000 deaths linked to the virus.