Following the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus COVID-19 a global pandemic, the SA government has announced drastic measures to deal with the spread of the virus.
In a address to the nation yesterday President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that:\
- Cabinet has declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act. He said this declaration would, “enable us to have an integrated and coordinated disaster management mechanism that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak of this virus. We will also be able to set up emergency, rapid and effective response systems to mitigate the severity of its impact.”
Following an extensive analysis of the progression of the disease worldwide and in South Africa, Cabinet has decided on the following measures effective immediately:
- Firstly, to limit contact between persons who may be infected and South African citizens.
- We are imposing a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China as from 18 March 2020.
- We have cancelled visas to visitors from those countries from today and previously granted visas are hereby revoked.
- South African citizens are advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, United States, United Kingdom and other identified high-risk countries such as China, Iran and South Korea.
- Government will continue to regularly issue travel alerts referring to specific cities, countries or regions as the situation evolves based on the risk level.
- Any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa.
- South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa.
- Travellers from medium-risk countries – such as Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore – will be required to undergo high-intensity screening.
- All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.
- We will strengthen surveillance, screening and testing measures at OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airports South Africa has 72 ports of entry in the country which are land, sea and airports. Of the 53 land ports, 35 will be shut down with effect from Monday 16 March. Two of the 8 seaports will be closed for passengers and crew changes.
- Effective immediately, all non-essential travel for all spheres of government outside of the Republic is prohibited All non-essential domestic travel by the public, particularly by air, rail, taxis and bus is discouraged.
President Ramaphosa further said, “it is essential therefore that we minimise the risk of the spread of this virus by limiting contact amongst groups of people. While we appreciate the economic, religious, and cultural significance of social and community gatherings, the coronavirus is spread through contact between persons. Therefore to encourage social distancing Cabinet has decided on these additional measures:”
- Gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited.
- Mass celebrations of upcoming national days such as Human Rights Day and other large government events will be cancelled.
- Where small gatherings are unavoidable, organisers will need to put in place stringent measures of prevention and control.
- Schools will be closed from Wednesday, 18 March, and will remain closed until after the Easter Weekend. To compensate, the mid-year school holidays will be shortened by a week.
- Visits to all correctional centres are suspend for 30 days with immediate effect.
President Ramaphosa added, “We call on all businesses including mining, retail, banking, farming to ensure that they take all necessary measures to intensify hygiene control. We also call on the management of malls, entertainment centres and other places frequented by large numbers of people to bolster their hygiene control.”
For more information, visit the department of health’s website at http://www.health.gov.za/
You can also call the 24 hour toll free Coronavirus toll free hotline on 0800 029 999
You can also join the Department of Health’s Whatsapp support line using the details below:
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) March 15, 2020