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South Africa to ease up on Nationwide lockdown regulations

South Africa continues to fight an invisible enemy reigning supreme in their midst even after the Nationwide lockdown was declared. But as soon as the Novel Corona Virus was declared a national disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, 15th March 2020, the South African government has joined forces to alleviate unfavorable effects both the virus and the nationwide lockdown has caused.

Upon entering the fifth week of an unprecedented nationwide lockdown, the President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation at the Union Buildings in Tshwane, Pretoria on the 23rd April 2020. The statement elaborated on the response of South Africa against the global pandemic which has taken close to 200, 000 lives worldwide.

Because the coronavirus can spread so rapidly through a population, it can overwhelm even the best resourced health system within a matter of weeks.”

On saying so, the President stated that this is what has happened to other countries with regards to their health system and that it is what they are working on preventing to avoid an over-weighed health system. When the health system is over-weighed due to insufficient intensive care units, hospital beds, ventilators, PPE or even medical attention- people suffering from the disease and need emergency procedures may be unable to get the care they need, subsequently leading to loss of life.

Through the lockdown, there has been slight delay of the spread of the virus therefore giving the government an opportunity to prepare health facilities and activate some of the essential medical supplies needed to meet the unforeseeable increase of the virus.

Later in his statement, the President emphasized the importance of considering that the lockdown cannot be sustained indefinitely.

“Our people need to eat. They need to earn a living. Companies need to produce and to trade, they need to generate revenue and keep their employees in employment.”

Thus saying, he introduced the implementation of a risk adjusted strategy that was agreed upon by the government and state to bring in gradual and phased recovery of economic activity as of Friday, May 1st, easing current lockdown restrictions. To resume activity as well as slow down the spread of the virus and save lives, the approach is carefully studied, analyzed and approved by scientists.

It involves 5 levels of the corona virus;

  • Level 5 means that drastic measures are required to contain the spread of the virus to save lives
  • Level 4 means that some activity can be allowed to resume subject to extreme precautions required to limit community transmission and outbreaks
  • Level 3 involves the easing of some restrictions, including on work and social activities to address a high risk transmission
  • Level 2 involves the further of easing restrictions but the maintenance of physical distancing and restrictions on some leisure and social activities to prevent resurgence of the virus
  • Level 1 mans that most normal activity can resume with precautions and health guidelines followed at all times.

There will be a national level and separate level for each province, district and metro in the country to ensure that the response to the virus is targeted and precise. South Africa is currently at level 5 that requires a full nationwide lockdown. All relevant ministers are to provide a detailed briefing on the classification of industries and how each is affected at each level and the government will also give industrial bodies an opportunity to consider the details and also add submissions before regulations are gazette.

From the 1st May 2020, alert level will be lowered from level 5 to level 4 meaning some activities will resume subject to precautions to limit transmission and widespread infection. Businesses permitted to resume will be expected to adhere to health and safety protocols to protect the livelihoods of employees from the virus.

Moreover, the sale of cigarettes will be permitted but bars and shebeens will still remain closed as well as other recreational areas like cinemas, theaters, sporting events etc.

The president also paid a tribute to the members of the health sector in the endless endeavors to limit the spread and infection of the virus and has therefore ensured all their necessary resources are made available to them in time on top of the 20 billion allocated for the health response. Apart from the health sector, The President also paid tribute to the essential services providers; vehicle drivers, farmers, petrol station workers, law enforcement officials, grocery and security personnel.

“This is a crucial moment in our struggle against the corona-virus. It is time for caution. May God bless South Africa and protect her people.”

For more information on the President’s response address;

Article by : Palesa Khotso


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