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Rapidly spreading infections spur fresh call for social distancing by President Cyril Ramaphosa

More than half of all cases since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in SA were recorded in the last two weeks‚ said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In his weekly newsletter‚ Ramaphosa said the rapidly spreading infections justified the state of disaster and lockdown regulations as all spheres of government needed to collaborate with each other to ensure healthcare facilities could handle the pandemic.

This week‚ the total number of cases is set to pass the 50‚000 mark‚ with the country about to record the 1‚000th death from the disease.

“Like many South Africans‚ I too have been worried as I watch the figures keep rising‚” said the president.

“While these numbers are broadly in line with what the various models had projected‚ there is a big difference between looking at a graph on a piece of paper and seeing real people becoming infected‚ some getting ill and some dying.”

“We should be concerned‚ but not alarmed. That is because we have the ability‚ as individuals‚ communities and as a country‚ to limit the impact of the disease on our people. As we have shown‚ we can slow the spread of the disease‚ and we should continue to take all measures possible to continue to flatten the infection curve. Most importantly‚ we must be prepared to reduce the number of deaths by implementing the necessary health measures.”

While noting that a high percentage of South Africans were observing hygiene protocols‚ he said “social distancing in public places is still a major challenge for us”.

He encouraged individuals to assess how to go to school or work safely‚ how they can change their shopping behaviour and how they worship to minimise the risk of infection.

“Each household should look at how they can protect elderly people and those with underlying conditions‚ such as diabetes‚ hypertension‚ cancer‚ TB or HIV.

“Do plan for the possibility that someone in the family may become infected and whether you will be able to isolate them from family members until they are better. If not‚ find out where the closest government quarantine site is. You should also plan ahead for what to do if someone gets sick.”

Ramaphosa said the Western Cape‚ which is the epicentre of coronavirus infections in South Africa with around two-thirds of all confirmed cases‚ highlighted the need for the fight against Covid-19 to be treated as a national disaster.

“They need help from outside the province‚ including additional funding and health personnel.

“After the Western Cape‚ the Eastern Cape is the province with the fastest-growing proportion of people infected. We know that some of the infections in the province were the result of people travelling from the Western Cape. What this tells us is that no part of the country is an island and that all South Africans‚ no matter where they live‚ need to remain vigilant and prepared. It is for this reason also that people are not permitted to travel between provinces while the country is at alert level 3‚ except under specific circumstances and with the necessary permits.

“As we watch the number of infections rise further – probably far faster than most of us imagined – working with our social partners‚ we in government are working hard to prepare for the increase in infections.

“We must mobilise and deploy all the necessary resources we have in the country. We need an integrated strategy that brings together the national‚ provincial and local spheres of government.”

Ramaphosa said government was buying personal protection equipment from across the world and supporting local companies to produce them here‚ while improving the infrastructure in hospitals‚ setting up temporary hospitals and finding more beds for Covid-19 patients. It had also intensified screening‚ testing‚ contact tracing and‚ where necessary‚ isolation.

“Although we have made progress‚ we still need to do much more in the coming weeks to meet the expected demand.”

Source: ARENA Holdings.