Africa, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

S. Africa: COVID-19 daily infection rate drops to 4%

South Africa currently in its 4th week of 35-day lockdown

Hassan Isilow   | 21.04.2020
S. Africa: COVID-19 daily infection rate drops to 4%


South Africa has seen a huge reduction in the number of daily COVID-19 infections, dropping from 42% to 4%, an official at the presidency said.

"Before the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) passed the current lockdown regulations, the number of new infections daily were about 42%," Thembi Siweya, the deputy minister, wrote in an article published by daily Sowetan on Monday.

Siweya said had the government not taken the lockdown decision, daily infections would have been higher, with more deaths, especially among the elderly South Africans.

The South African government took a comprehensive approach in dealing with COVID-19 because it learnt lessons from dealing with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, she noted.

Siweya said her country learnt that taking a narrow approach in dealing with any disease or virus can lead to a higher mortality rate, stagnant economic growth and hindered social cohesion, and that is why they choose to keep millions of non-essential workers at home.

South Africa is currently in its fourth week of a 35-day lockdown, where non-essential workers are asked to stay home in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. Essential workers include those in healthcare, food production, telecommunication and transport sectors, among others.

The country has the highest number of COVID-19 infections on the continent, with 3,300 confirmed cases and 58 deaths, while 1,055 have recovered from the virus.

"It is important to make it clear that the national lockdown is not the only solution the government has implemented," she wrote.

The government is aware that the national lockdown has an impact on the economic, political and social facets of society so they choose the notion of solidarity economy approach orientated towards the implementation of welfare services by the state, the private sector and the people, Siweya added.

"This means the responsibility of the government to offer basic necessities to the people, especially the poor, is shared by all independent components of the state, the private sector and ordinary citizens," she noted.

The South African government, NGOs, individuals and businesses have been distributing food parcels, providing running water and other basic services to communities during this lockdown.

The government has also helped businesses and employees with various financial and policy interventions.

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