CORONAVIRUS #LOCKDOWN

In a national address, Ramaphosa announces mass screening and testing campaign

By Greg Nicolson 30 March 2020
Caption
President Cyril Ramaphosa Photo: Felix Dlangamandla, N24

There are 1,326 cases of Covid-19 in South Africa and three virus-related deaths, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday, urging people to adhere to lockdown regulations as 10,000 field workers are due to go door-to-door to screen residents.

South Africa’s fight against Covid-19 is entering a “new phase” with 10,000 field workers set to go door-to-door across the country to screen residents for symptoms, announced President Cyril Ramaphosa in an address to the nation on Monday evening.

By last night South Africa had 1,326 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and three people had died as a result of the virus, said the president. That was up from a total of 1,280 and two deaths on Sunday.

Ramaphosa said field workers would soon start going to households to screen people for symptoms. Those who show symptoms will be referred for testing at clinics and mobile clinics.

Those infected but showing no symptoms or moderate symptoms will be instructed to self-isolate, either at home or in a government facility, while those who have severe symptoms will be referred to hospital.

“This drive is far-reaching, it is intensive and it is unprecedented in scale,” said Ramaphosa.

He said a mobile technology system would soon be rolled out to help trace people’s contacts in real-time.

He said people had “for the most part” responded positively to the lockdown, which began on Friday, and had adhered to the regulations, but he warned those who are still sceptical.

The SAPS made hundreds of arrests over the weekend for violations of the lockdown. Reports have shown bars and taverns continuing to operate, people drinking in the street, surfers trying to catch waves and a host of other violations.

“Some people may think this disease is something that doesn’t concern them and that it will never affect them, that it is something they only read about in newspapers or social media or see reports about on television.

“But it is very real and it poses a great danger to every one of us and our society as well. It infects the rich and the poor, the young and the old, black and white, those who live in the cities and those who live in the rural areas,” said Ramaphosa.

“Let us not make the mistake of thinking this is somebody else’s problem. Every time you violate the regulations the government has issued or try to get around the rules, you are putting yourselves and others at risk and helping to spread the virus.”

The president acknowledged the lockdown was causing hardship for individuals, society and the economy. The government was providing homeless people with shelter, was delivering water to in-need communities, and would try to help citizens who are abroad and trying to get home, using the limited resources available.

There are reports questioning the quality of support provided to the homeless, and police and the SANDF, deployed to enforce the lockdown, have been criticised for being overly aggressive. A man was shot dead outside his home on Sunday after police officers dispersed a group of drinkers in Vosloorus.

Ramaphosa emphasised that all authorities have been deployed “to support, reassure and to comfort our people” and ensure peace and order.

“They know that they must act within the law at all times and they must not cause harm to any of our people in any way whatsoever,” he said.

“We are going through uncharted territory. All of us, we have never experienced a situation like this before and a number of mistakes will be made through the course of all this, but we ask for our people’s understanding that all this is being done for the good of everyone. We will continue to correct the mistakes wherever they are made.” DM

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