Published on : Tuesday, March 24, 2020
South Africa is going to 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. President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The country’s 56 million people have been told to “stay at home” from midnight on Thursday until midnight on April 16 to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportions in our country.
But the order will not apply to those providing essential services, including health care workers, police, and people involved in the supply of goods, including food. 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.
The individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant, Ramaphosa said in a televised address on Monday evening.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the army would be deployed to support the police in enforcing the lockdown.
South Africa is the third African country to impose a lockdown after Rwanda and Tunisia ordered their citizens to stay at home, except for essential economic activities, in response to the deadly coronavirus.
The lockdown comes a week after Ramaphosa declared the coronavirus pandemic a national disaster and restricted international travel, prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people, and closed schools and other educational institutions to curb the contagion.