Published on : Tuesday, March 24, 2020
South Africa’s national carrier South African Airways has since suspended all international and regional flights to help stop the spread of coronavirus disease that has killed more than 16,000 people and infected over 350,000 worldwide.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the army would be deployed to support the police in enforcing the lockdown. South Africa will impose a nationwide lockdown for three weeks as it tries to contain a surge in coronavirus cases, which on Monday jumped from 274 to 402 in a day.
All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers, Ramaphosa said.
Across Africa, nations are bracing for more cases. A week ago, the continent of 54 countries had reported less than 200. But in the last few days, several African nations have reported their first cases of coronavirus, after weeks of being spared as the disease that was first reported in central China swept the globe.
The new infections have pushed the total number in Africa to more than 1,600, with more than 50 deaths as of Monday – a worrying trend for the continent’s fragile health care systems.
On Monday, Nigeria and Zimbabwe recorded their first fatalities from the virus. Algeria and Morocco are also among the continent’s worst-hit countries with 230 and 143 cases, respectively.
Experts have warned that a surge in cases of the pneumonia-like illness could overburden the health care systems in many African countries, and they say the rate of infection needs to be slowed so that people can get access to treatment.