The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has risen to 709, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced during an interview on SABC Morning Live.
This is up by 155 from the 554 confirmed coronavirus cases announced yesterday, 24 March.
At least 50 of the new positive coronavirus cases have been registered from a church in the Free State, Mkhize said.
“We are very grateful that the churches have cancelled Good Friday celebrations, as this would have made the problem much worse,” Mkhize said.
Mkhize also discouraged South Africans from moving around during the Easter weekend, stressing that citizens must stay in the same place during the lockdown.
This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing a nationwide lockdown for 21 days.
The lockdown will take effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March and will end on 16 April.
All South Africans must stay at home during the lockdown, he said.
Emergency services, security services, and other essentials services workers will be allowed to continue with their work, along with those involved in the production and supply of food and basic goods. This includes stores which sell food.
Companies in the energy provision, medical supply, laboratory, essential transport – including petrol stations – and essential financial services sectors will also continue to operate.
SA military forces will be deployed along with the SA Police to ensure the restrictions are adhered to.
The most effective way to prevent infections is through basic changes in hygiene and behaviour, said Ramaphosa.
“Staying at home is the preferred best defence against the virus,” he said.