Own Correspondent|Coronavirus has dramatically changed the game. But desperate times call for desperate measures, as Cyril Ramaphosa stressed on Monday.
The enormous burden of responsibility has fallen upon the shoulders of Cyril Ramaphosa, as the president is left with the unenviable task of steering South Africa through the coronavirus crisis.
On Monday evening, he addressed the nation, and made some sweeping statements on the matter – South Africa now face a countrywide lockdown.
An alarming jump in cases earlier saw the health department reveal that 402 people have contracted the disease in South Africa, less than three weeks after the first patient to contract COVID-19 was identified in KZN. However, that person – and three others who travelled with him to Italy – have all made a full recovery.
From this, hope springs eternal. But Ramaphosa was left with little choice but to make a very solemn set of decisions to help the nation battle with this beligerent illness. Here are the major bombshells he dropped:
South Africa will enter lockdown to beat coronavirus.
“Without decisive action, hundreds of thousands of people could catch the disease. We have a large number of people with immune system illnesses, and millions who live in poverty. Therefore, we have decided to enforce a 21-day lockdown from Thursday 26 March to Thursday 16th April – this will have an impact on our livelihoods.”
“Exemptions include health workers, emergency personnel, security services, soldiers and those involved with food production and supply. Banking services, those in power and water, and lab workers are also exempt. We will publish this list in due course.”
Individuals will only be allowed to leave the house to buy food, medical supplies or collect a social grant. Provisions will be made for the homeless, and we continue to identify quarantine sites for these people.
Only pharmacies, banks, laboratories, payment services (petrol services and healthcare providers) will remain open. Those businesses responsible for the production and sale of food will remain open too.
All South Africans must remain in their homes for 21 days, starting from Thursday 26 March.
SANDF “have been deployed”… but only to help police.
“The SANDF will be deployed to support the SA Police Service, to ensure the measures are observed. This lockdown will be accompanied by a programme which increases screening and contract tracing.”
Ramaphosa says poverty-stricken citizens receive water-boost.
“To ensure hospitals aren’t overwhelmed, we will centralise hospitals for severe cases. Emergency water supplies are being provided to informal settlements and rural areas. More measures will be implemented to strengthen prevention – these are in place to save lives.”
Coronavirus: The matter of tourists still in South Africa.
“All international travellers who arrived in SA from high-risk will be confined to their hotels until they have completed a period of quarantine”.
South Africans urged to “pay towards solidarity fund”
“We are mitigating the economic impact of this disease. We are announcing interventions which will cushion society from these difficulties. We have set up a solidarity fund which SA businesses and investors can contribute to. It’ll go towards fighting the coronavirus in a range of actions. It’ll help us in the public sector.”
“It will feature a board of prominent South Africans. We’ve already started with a R150 million investment. We applaud the commitment made by Johann Rupert and Nicky Oppenheimer to assist us in this time of need – they have committed R1 billion of their own money to help us on this front.”
Stop panic-buying, stop stockpiling:
“Regulations are in place to prevent price-hikes and stop panic-buying. All of us must understand the supply of goods remains continuous. In discussions with government, suppliers have confirmed the supply chain is healthy – there is no need to stockpile any items”.
Employers, workers to be protected – Cyril Ramaphosa.
“A safety net is in place for those in business who will be hurt by the lockdown. We are in consultation to issue a special dispensation for companies in distress. Employees will receive payment through a special scheme which will allow establishments to keep paying wages and avoid retrenchment.”
Access to social grants remain in place.
“Old age pensions and disability grants will be available on 30-31 March, other grants will be available from 1 April. All access channels remain open, including ATMs, post offices and payments.”
Employers are urged to take care of their workers during this period… If it becomes necessary, we will use funds in the UIF to prop-up vulnerable firms who cannot support themselves. Details will be made available soon. SARS are working to pay employment tax incentive reimbursement, to get cash in the hands of compliant businesses and employers.”
Huge stimulus for industries.
“Over R500 million has been set aside for Small Business. R3 billion will go towards industrial industries. The Tourism Department has made R200 million available for businesses in their industry. This will help our economy significantly.”
Warning for those with corrupt intentions from Ramaphosa.
“Special units of the NPA will act immediately to arrest anyone who commits acts of corruption during this allocation of emergency funds. The guilty will go to jail.”
And… Cyril Ramaphosa’s message of hope against coronavirus
“We need to be courageous, to be patient and above all, show solidarity and compassion to one another. Letus never despair despite the challenges that our country is facing now, for we are a nation of one and we are surely going to prevail. May God protect our people.”