SANDF will ensure water supply, infrastructure maintenance and health services
Provinces and districts with low Covid-19 infection rates are set to enjoy a relaxing of SA’s strict lockdown regulations from May, President Cyril Ramaphosa signalled.
“Because Covid-19 confirmed case numbers and rates of infection differ across the country, alert levels will be determined at the provincial, and in some cases, the district level once the full nationwide lockdown ends,” on April 30, he said.
In areas where infection rates are high, the military will be activated to help government contain the pandemic.
Ramaphosa confirmed the more than R4.5bn plan in his address to the nation on Thursday night, saying: “I have employed over 70,000 defence force personnel to assist with various parts of our coronavirus response.”
“Until now, those defence force members that have been deployed have supported the SA Police Service in their responsibilities. They will continue to do so, but they will also be providing assistance in other essential areas, such as the provision of water supply, infrastructure maintenance and health services.”
Ramaphosa announced five levels of lockdown. SA’s current hard lockdown, in place until next Friday, is stage five. The country will move to level four from May 1, which still encourages a stay-at-home policy with exercise, cigarette sales, more goods to purchase in stores, some economic activity and wine exports being permitted. Stage one offers the most freedoms in a post-coronavirus society.
The details of the plan will be fleshed out in coming days.
The Northern Cape is the least affected province so far, with zero deaths and six recoveries. The North West has 13 recoveries and no fatalities. Mpumalanga has 15 cases, also with no deaths.
In contrast, SA’s biggest cities are worst affected.
“From the evidence we have, we know that 75% of confirmed coronavirus cases are found in just six metro municipalities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Cape Town, Buffalo City, eThekwini and Mangaung,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa said: “It is therefore essential that we do everything in our means to restrict the movement of people and – although it runs counter to our very nature – to reduce the contact each of us has with each other. Ultimately, it is our own actions, as individuals, that will determine how quickly the virus spreads.
“If we all adhere to instructions and follow public health guidelines, we will keep the virus under control and will not need to reinstate the most drastic restrictions.”
The National Coronavirus Command Council, said Ramaphosa, will determine the alert level based on an assessment of the infection rate and the capacity of the country’s health system to provide care to those who need it.
In addition, government has undertaken a detailed exercise to classify the different parts of the economy according to the risk of transmission in that sector, the expected affect of the lockdown, the economic contribution of the sector and the effect on livelihoods.
In the coming days, the relevant ministers will provide a detailed briefing on the classification of industries and how each is affected at each level, he said. Business organisations will be able to make submissions before new regulations are gazetted.