Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #55

Hotspots, field hospitals and millions back to work: Ramaphosa warns Coronavirus threat hasn’t passed as Level 3 announced

Hotspots, field hospitals and millions back to work: Ramaphosa warns Coronavirus threat hasn’t passed as Level 3 announced
Commuters walk to and from taxis at the Bara Taxi Rank during the national lockdown in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photos: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

Over the weekend, various announcements were made about what lockdown Level 3 will look like from 1 June. The country’s borders remain closed, but South Africans will be allowed to travel to return to their work and life abroad. Meanwhile, a trio of Daily Maverick journalists has produced an interactive in-depth feature about ‘the other epidemic’: army and police violence during the lockdown.

 

 

Swipe through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 24 May at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments — however, KwaZulu-Natal did not provide updates by the time of publishing:

 

South Africa may be moving to lockdown Level 3 with relaxed restrictions, but vigilance and co-operation in the face of the pandemic must increase, warned President Cyril Ramaphosa during a national address on Sunday evening.

Ramaphosa cautioned that while the lockdown has bought the country more time to bolster its health response to the pandemic, the relaxed restrictions will create more opportunities for transmission and a spike in new infections can be expected. 

He said things will become worse before they get better, and as always, the actions of individuals will determine the scale and duration of the pandemic. He said the threat has not passed and the pandemic is not over, but that we must learn to live with the virus until a vaccine is found.

As of 1 June, most people will return to work in South Africa as the entire country moves to Level 3 – this includes hotspots. The hotspots will see increased public health interventions and will be managed by its own dedicated team of health experts. 

 

 

 

Under Level 3, the curfew will be lifted and exercise can take place at any time of day. Alcohol will be for sale during specific hours on particular days and will be for home consumption only. Funerals and work meetings can be held with no more than 50 people in attendance.

He ended his address by reaffirming that the right to life and the right to dignity is central to the country’s Covid-19 response and that “we must stand firm against any actions that infringe on these and other basic human rights”.

 

 

 

Under Level 3, 33% of the student population can return to tertiary education campuses, delivery sites and residences, announced Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande at a press briefing on Saturday, 23 May. 

Those eligible to return are medical students, final-year and postgraduate students who need access to laboratories and equipment and students who need to do clinical training. As Karabo Mafolo writes, students and staff will be screened each day before entering the campus. 

The country’s borders remain closed under Level 3, bar the transport of goods and the repatriation of citizens. However, those South Africans “locked in” will be allowed to leave the country to continue their life and work abroad. This includes work, study, family reunion, to take up permanent residency and to receive medical attention. As Peter Fabricius writes, this follows the threat of legal action.

Between 27 March and 5 May, 11 people died at the hands of the police during the enforcement of lockdown laws. Nearly 400 complaints of police misconduct related to the lockdown were lodged with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate during that time. Daily Maverick journalists Chanel Retief, Greg Nicolson and Ferial Haffajee have examined how this happened during a public health emergency. Read their interactive feature here. DM/MC

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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