South Africa’s 21-day lockdown decision earns widespread applause

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Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to impose a 21-day lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus has been well recieved.

The move will see most businesses and restaurants shutting down from Thursday until April 16 and soldiers deployed in the streets. Analyst Somadoda Fikeni told Xinhua the measures would be crucial in ensuring social distancing. “It was about time, the numbers (COVID-19 cases) were climbing very fast and he has actually shown leadership in the last few weeks and he has shown his skills of approaching people to get them behind,” he said.

With millions of people expected to be travelling within the country during April, the decision was made at the right time, noted Fikeni. “A lot of South Africans turn to move and the lockdown will constrain that movement and force the notion of social distancing.” He also applauded the package announced to assist affected businesses.Largest trade federation Cosatu said the informal economy welcomed the lock-down decision. “If bold measures are not taken speedily, we likely face a full-scale economic depression with unprecedented job losses,” said Cosatu’s spokesman Sizwe Pamla.He said, “We welcome the economic interventions announced by the president so far to cushion the workers and vulnerable businesses.”

The lockdown follows a rapid increase of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa. Cyril Xaba, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, urged citizens to cooperate with defence force. “We call on all South Africans to fully cooperate with the directions of our troops. These troops are serving the country at the risk of their health to ensure South Africans are saved from infection,” he said, “There are no words to describe the gratitude owed to them, as citizens we need to play our part by fully cooperating with the measures imposed.” x

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