'Unprecedented': South Africa goes into coronavirus lockdown

Elias Hubbard
March 28, 2020

This is contained in a letter President Cyril Ramaphosa sent to the speaker of the National Assembly on Wednesday, informing members of Parliament of the deployment of SANDF members.

South Africa recorded its first two deaths from the novel coronavirus on Friday as the number of confirmed cases breached the 1,000 mark just hours after a three-week nationwide lockdown swung into action.

On Monday, Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national shutdown in a bid to slow down the spread of Covid-19 across South Africa.

On Friday, the country reported 927 confirmed cases, a more than 30 percent jump from the previous day.

Kenya, Rwanda, Mali and Nigeria are among other African countries to impose restrictions to curb transmission of the coronavirus.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country's pointman on the pandemic said the first case of coronavirus detected outside Kinshasa - is in the restive eastern province of Ituri, which was also touched by a now-waning epidemic of Ebola.

In South Africa there are additional fears for people living with HIV - particularly the estimated 2.5 million in South Africa who are not taking anti-retroviral drugs.

"You are the restorers of life to our people".

The sale of alcohol and cigarettes is prohibited, meal delivery has been banned, and citizens are not permitted to leave their homes for a walk or a jog.

The east African country will begin a night-time curfew on Friday to try curtail the spread.

"While there has been two deaths what has now been confirmed by the authorities, one death is confirmed, the other death is suspected", said Mthembu on behalf of Mkhize. Before the deadline, there were long lines at supermarkets as people stocked up on supplies, according to the BBC. This came as a result of the staggering number of people who have been affected by the Corona Virus.

Anxiety has been especially high for low-income South Africans squeezed into townships, sometimes with an extended family sharing a shack of corrugated metal and little income.

"These are challenging times. There are many amongst us who are fearful, uncertain and vulnerable", the president said.

South Africa's Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula warned that "if people are not complying, they [the military] may be forced to take extraordinary measures".

Violation of any of the regulations will carry a six-month jail sentence or fine in South Africa.

Moody's Investors Service warned that the fallout from the border closures, commodity price declines and financial market volatility will have "severe macroeconomic and financial impact" on African sovereign debt. It is followed by Ivory Coast and Cameroon, each with under 100 confirmed cases.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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