Cyril Ramaphosa, South African President said the new regulation would take effect nationwide from Thursday, 26 March, 2020.
While briefing the media on Tuesday at the Union Buildings, Tshwane, Ramaphosa emphasised that the decision became important for a greater good, and as part of measures to combat the deadly pandemic ravaging the globe.
“As a consequence, the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to enforce a nation-wide lock-down for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March,” Ramaphosa said in a verified tweet shared on social media account of the South African Presidency @PresidencyZA.
“This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
“While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater.”
He said, as of Monday the number of confirmed cases had increased six-fold in just eight days from 61 cases to 402 cases.
— Presidency | South Africa ???????? (@PresidencyZA) March 24, 2020
“This number will continue to rise,” he noted.
The South African government had earlier declared the coronavirus pandemic a national disaster and announced a package of extraordinary measures to combat the issue described as ‘grave public health emergency.’
The president noted that millions of his citizens already understood the gravity of the situation, stressing that most South Africans have accepted earlier restrictions and also taken the responsibility to change their behaviour.
He expressed satisfaction on the level of awareness among different groups in the South African society such as religious leaders, sporting associations, political parties, trade unions, business people among others including public servants.
“…every part of our society has come forward to confront this challenge.”
“Many have had to make difficult choices and sacrifices, but all have been determined that these choices and sacrifices are absolutely necessary if our country is to emerge stronger from this disaster,” he added.
Ramaphosa applauded the health workers and other medical officials who have been on the frontline of the pandemic, including border officials, police and traffic officers helping in the containment measures.
“Since the national state of disaster was declared, we have put in place a range of regulations and directives. These regulations have restricted international travel, prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people, closed schools and other educational institutions and restricted the sale of alcohol after 6 pm.”
However, only health workers in both public and private sectors are excluded from the lockdown.
Security operatives, those involved in the production, distribution and supply of essential and basic goods, health supplies would be excluded including banking and laboratory services.
“Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant,” Ramaphosa stated. “Temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified for homeless people. Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home.”
“All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.
“Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian government is also considering a more stringent measures following an announcement by Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, who said the government, might need to deploy the military as part of preventive measures.
It already shut down the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings, secondary and primary schools, railway service, universities, land borders and the airport.
As of date, the number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria has risen to 42 cases, 39 are still active, two were discharged and one death so far recorded.