Ramaphosa warns of spike of new COVID-19 infections in South Africa

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South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members arrive at the Rand Light Infantry on 23 March 2020 in Johannesburg. President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a three-week national lockdown on Monday evening, saying the army would patrol the streets along with the police to ensure the lockdown is respected. Photo: Gallo Images/ Dino Lloyd
South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members arrive at the Rand Light Infantry on 23 March 2020 in Johannesburg. President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a three-week national lockdown on Monday evening, saying the army would patrol the streets along with the police to ensure the lockdown is respected. Photo: Gallo Images/ Dino Lloyd

President Cyril Ramaphosa warned on Monday that the COVID-19 infection rate in South Africa will continue to rise at a much faster rate in the next few months.

“We have not nearly reached the peak of infections in South Africa,” the president said, citing scientific models. He was speaking in his weekly address one day after the country reported a sharp surge in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and two days after the easing of restrictions following a five-week hard lockdown.

On Sunday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country stood at 6,783, up by 447 from Saturday’s figure, the highest single-day rise since March 5, when the country reported its first case. Meanwhile, the country reported eight more related deaths, bringing the total to 131.Ramaphosa said that although the pandemic continued to spread in South Africa, “other countries had far more infections than we do.”

As of now – which is 46 days since South Africa recorded its 100th cases, the country has 6,783 confirmed cases, while Italy, which has a similar size population as that of South Africa, had more than 140,000 cases and the United States had around 700,000 confirmed cases at the 46-day mark, according to Ramaphosa.This has been possible because most South Africans have adhered to the lockdown provisions, practicing social distancing and wearing face masks, he said. The measures taken by the government, which included a nation-wide lockdown and the closure of the borders, have proved to be effective in delaying the spread of the disease, the president said.

The speed with which the virus spreads and the number of people who are ultimately infected will be determined by what they do now, he said. “That is why the easing of the lockdown needs to be gradual and cautious.

It is for this reason that many regulations need to remain in place and why it is absolutely essential that people observe them,” said Ramaphosa.South Africa moved to level-four restrictions on May 1, down from level-five. Under level-four restrictions, businesses can partially resume operations, allowing 1.5 million people to return to work. Social distancing and proper hygiene are still the best and only defenses in this struggle, Ramaphosa said.”This is what informs the regulations we have put in place for level-four of our response,” he said.

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