Urgent and drastic measures to stop the coronavirus in South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has addressed the nation about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in South Africa, and listed restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

“This situation called for an extraordinary response,” said Ramaphosa, adding that a national state of disaster has been implemented in the country.

The restrictions are:

  • Travel bans on individuals from high-risk countries, including Italy, Iran, South Korea, China, Spain, Germany, the UK, and the US.
  • South Africa will stop issuing visas to visitors from certain high-risk countries, and revoke visas which have already been issued.
  • South Africans are advised to avoid travelling to or through Europe, the US, the UK, Iran, South Korea and China.
  • Foreign nationals from high-risk countries will be denied an entry visa to South Africa.
  • South Africans who are returning from high-risk countries will be required to undergo testing and self-isolation.
  • Non-essential government travel overseas will be curtailed.
  • Non-essential local travel must be curtailed.
  • Gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited.
  • Large government events will be cancelled.
  • Schools will be closed from 18 March 2020 until after the Easter holidays.
  • 35 land ports will be shut down from Monday.

Ramaphosa said that international airports will have improved screening measures, and all businesses must improve their hygiene controls.

A tracking and monitoring system will also be implemented to ensure that those who have been infected with the coronavirus are monitored.

He added that the local economy will be heavily affected as a result of local and international restrictions which are in place.

The government is therefore putting a fiscal support plan together, and will announce its details in the near future.

“No country is immune from the disease,” said Ramaphosa.

Cases in South Africa

These restrictions follow an announcement on Sunday morning that the number of COVID-19 cases in South Africa has increased from 38 to 51.

Ramaphosa announced that the cases have now increased to 61, which shows that local transmissions are occurring.

Gauteng has 24 cases while the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have 14 and 12 cases respectively. Mpumalanga has recorded one case.

On Sunday, WITS University announced that one of its medical students had tested positive for the virus.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is now conducting a confirmatory test before it is officially confirmed.

Citing experts, Rapport stated it is possible for South Africa to avoid a catastrophic outbreak of the coronavirus if it acts decisively, however.

The experts said that to contain the coronavirus outbreak, the country should learn from other countries and immediately implement restrictions.

International travel bans

There are numerous international travel bans and restrictions in place as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

German authorities announced that they will close their borders to France, Austria, and Switzerland.

The United States has barred the entry of travellers from China, Iran, 26 European countries, and the United Kingdom.

Argentina said it is stopping all flights from Europe and the United States for a month, starting on 17 March.

Israel and New Zealand now require foreign travels who enter their countries to remain in home quarantine or self-isolation respectively for 14 days.

Singapore is restricting the entry of travellers who recently visited France, Germany, Italy, and Spain – be it entry into or transit through the country.

Events cancelled

Over the past few weeks many sporting and major events have also been cancelled or suspended as a precautionary measure to combat the virus spreading.

On Saturday, SANZAAR, the organisation which oversees Super Rugby, said the 2020 tournament was suspended because of the coronavirus.

A day later the organisers of the 2020 Two Oceans Marathon, which was set to take place on 11 April, announced the race was cancelled.

The 2020 Absa Cape Epic, which attracts many international participants, was also cancelled because of coronavirus concerns.

Other event cancellations include the season-opening Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the postponement of future F1 races.

The F1 races in China, Bahrain, and Vietnam have all been suspended, and the 2020 season is now only set to begin at the end of May.

A number of major tech events have also either been cancelled or moved online, due to fears of spreading the coronavirus.

This includes GSMA’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), Google I/O, Facebook’s F8 event, SXSW, and IBM’s Think conference.

Recode reported that the combined losses from these events run over $1 billion. MWC was set to be attended by around 100,000 people and its cancellation alone cost $480 million.

Now read: Travel ban for South Africa on the cards

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Urgent and drastic measures to stop the coronavirus in South Africa