Coronavirus: South Africa Extends Lockdown, Slashes Cabinet Ministers’ Salaries by 33%

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended the country’s coronavirus lockdown by another two weeks, effectively closing down free movement and much of the economy until the end of April.

South Africa Extends Coronavirus Lockdown, Slashes Cabinet Ministers' Salaries by 33%

President Ramaphosa also announced a temporary 33 percent pay cut for himself and members of his Cabinet and appealed to business executives to follow their example.

In a live broadcast to the nation, Ramaphosa said the two-week-long lockdown, initially due to end on April 16, was working.

“In the two weeks before the lockdown,” he said. “the average daily increase in new cases was around 42 percent. Since the start of the lockdown, the average daily increase has been around 4 percent.”

Since the implementation of lockdown, the number of daily confirmed cases has dropped to between 20 and 90 a day.

He said this represented “real progress”, although he acknowledged that “a better picture of the infection rate” would emerge only after the expansion of a drive to screen, test, trace and treat people.

“We are only at the beginning of a monumental struggle that demands our every resource and our every effort,” he added. “Simply put, if we end the lockdown too soon or too abruptly, we risk a massive and uncontrollable resurgence of the disease.”

But he said the government would take steps to enable what he called “a phased recovery” of the economy under which some sectors of the economy would be allowed to operate under strict conditions.

He called on businesses to continue paying their workers and their suppliers where possible.

“In support of this effort, we have decided that the President, Deputy President, ministers and deputy ministers will each take a one-third cut in their salaries for the next three months… We are calling on other public office bearers and executives of large companies to make a similar gesture and to further increase the reach of this national effort.”

Worst yet to come

Cohen, the co-head of the NICD’s Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis and an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of the Witwatersrand, said the current slowdown in new daily infection numbers was as a result of the travel ban imposed by Ramaphosa which halted the importation of cases from countries where the spread of the coronavirus was already exponential.

The lockdown had, in effect, bought the country time to prepare and rollout mass testing campaigns, she added, which were intended to identify cases in the communities, find hot spots of infections and take measures to prevent further spread in those areas she said.

“We expect the cases may come up. It’s also accepted the number of cases we see reported is not all the cases. Nobody is saying that’s all the cases in SA.

Since the implementation of lockdown, the number of daily confirmed cases has dropped to between 20 and 90 a day.

With winter fast approaching, Cohen said, it would prove even more difficult to find Covid-19 cases among the tens of thousands of people who get other respiratory illnesses every year, adding the government had responded to this challenge by rolling out mass testing and screening campaigns.

The virus, she added, was going to be with us for the foreseeable future – until a vaccine was found.

Uzonna Anele
Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.


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