President Cyril Ramaphosa has again emphasised the importance of social distancing in the fight against COVID-19 in South Africa.
He has called on South Africans to abide by the regulations that have been published by government during the 21-day lockdown and to take the virus seriously.
“In terms of compliance, we are finding that many of our people throughout the country are abiding by the lockdown and the regulations,” he said during a visit to the Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation COVID-19 Command Centre at Rand Water, in Johannesburg, earlier today.
Government, he said, is still doing an assessment on the effectiveness of the lockdown.
“If we had not locked down South Africa as we have … I can tell you that the infection rate would have been higher that what we have. The lockdown has been an important measure that we have used to save lives and to contain the spread of the pandemic.”
He said government was right now focussed on stopping the spread of COVID-19 cases and deaths as well.
This as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased to 1,749. It has claimed the lives of 13 people in South Africa.
President Ramaphosa, in response to a question regarding Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams’ alleged violation of the lockdown rules, said he had called her to meet with him.
This after former Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Mduduzi Manana shared a picture of the two, along with others, having a meal at his house.
“I have seen the picture of Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams sitting at the luncheon with a number of friends and other people. I have asked her to come and see me, so she is going to come and see me and I am going to have a discussion with her about the impact of visuals,” the President said.
According to the 21-day lockdown regulations implemented by government, people are only allowed to go to stores to get essential items or if they are rendering essential services.
According to the picture posted – and later deleted by Manana – Ndabeni-Abrahams stopped by Manana’s house for a meal on her way back from executing essential services duties.
The President said he would be going straight home after his work engagement, so as to abide by the lockdown regulations.
His visit to the command centre on Tuesday comes as more than 400,000 water tanks are being distributed in areas that have water shortages throughout the country.
“Many of our people did say they don’t have access to water and that led us to immediately embark on a massive project of distributing water tanks throughout the country,” President Ramaphosa said.
He said Rand Water has become the nerve centre for monitoring the distribution of water.
“Rand Water itself distributes up to 80 percent of water usage in the country. There are obviously still some challenges, but we are going to overcome them.
“I would say that COVID-19, as much as it is a pandemic that we don’t need in our lives, has given us an opportunity as a country to work in a different way to reach out to our people and deliver the most important resource that any human being needs – which is water,” President Ramaphosa said.
He said as government distributes the water throughout the country, it should assist in reducing the levels of infection.
During his visit, President Ramaphosa was briefed on the operations of the centre in response to the outbreak.
The command centre was initiated flowing from the President’s announcement of the country being in a State of National Disaster due to the onset of the coronavirus, thus the need for urgent responses to the pandemic.
The Ministry of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has been tasked with a responsibility of ensuring that there is water for all communities in order to flatten the curve and to stop the spread of the virus.
Minister Lindiwe Sisulu led the Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation team that briefed the President on the operations of the command centre.