It was just a matter of time. The Coronavirus National Lockdown is now a reality in South Africa, as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country will undergo a nationwide lockdown to prevent the SARS-CoV-2 from spreading.
Read the President’s statement below:
“All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.”
Also, according to Ramaphosa, “Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open”.
How long will the Coronavirus National Lockdown last?
The nationwide lockdown is expected to begin at 23:59 on Thursday (26) and is set to end on 16 April. As of monday, at least 402 positive cases were reported and that number is expected to rise in the following days. This lockdown may seem to be a desperate measure, but it is the best way to avoid more cases and death.
“Without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands, and within a few weeks, to hundreds of thousands.”
Every person in South Africa will be affected. People will not be allowed to leave their homes for the 21 days following the start of the nationwide lockdown, except for very specific circumstances, such as buying food, seeking medical care or going out to get medical supplies or social grants.
The following businesses will remain open, despite the COVID-19 pandemic
- Pharmacies, laboratories and healthcare providers;
- Banks, financial and payment services (including the JSE);
- Petrol Stations.
What else is coming during the national lockdown?
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will be supporting the police to ensure the aforementioned measures are implemented.
Also, according to the President, there will be a public health management programme.
“This nationwide lockdown will be accompanied by a public health management programme which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management.”g
There will also be a “centralised patient management system” dedicated to severe cases of Covid-19 to make sure that hospitals are not overwhelmed. Meanwhile, cases that are considered to be mild will receive “decentralised primary care”.
Emergency water supplies will be provided in informal settlements and rural areas through storage tanks, water thanks, boreholes and communal standpipes. This measure will ensure that people will have access to basic hygiene, preventing them from getting sick.
Local citizens arriving in South Africa will undergo a 14-day quarantine period, to ensure community safety and also their own. If they come from high-risk countries, then they shall be confined to their hotels for a 14-day quarantine period as well. International travelers will not be accepted and will have to return to their home country upon arriving.
There is a solidarity fund to help those who will lose their jobs or have their lives affected by the pandemic. You can contribute to it here.
The government will soon announce a safety plan for businesses as well, since they won’t be able to open their establishments during lockdown.
Ramaphosa also mentioned the following:
“To alleviate congestion at payment points, old-age pensions and disability grants will be available for collection from 30 and 31 March 2020, while other categories of grants will be available for collection from 1 April 2020.”
Meanwhile, ATMs, retail point of sale devices, post offices and cash pay points will remain open.
What about employees?
The government proposed that companies in distress due to the Covid-19 pandemic to have a special dispensation, which allows employees to receive wage payments during the lockdown period. Those who become ill due to exposure in the workplace will be paid through the Compensation Fund, according to Ramaphosa.
Government will also provide tax supsidies that go up to R500 monthly during the next four months to private sector employees that earn less than R6 500.
Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19?
The current coronavirus that is spreading around the world in 2020 is called SARS-CoV-2, which stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2”, while the disease caused by this virus is called COVID-19.
Coronaviruses are groups of virus that present crown-like spikes on their surface, therefore being named after the word “crown” in Spanish – corona.
There may be many doubts in your mind right now, both about your health and about economy. Keep in mind that the government is working to keep you safe, so follow the recommended procedures and avoid getting out of home without need. Together, we can win this battle against Coronavirus.