Cape Town – While the country may move to lockdown alert Level 3 to allow for more economic activity come the end of this month, things might not be the same for residents in the Western Cape – South Africa’s Covid-19 epicentre.
In addressing the nation last night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government would start consulting with role-players on a proposal that by the end of May, most of the country be placed on Level 3, but that those parts of the country with the highest rates of infection remain on Level 4.
By yesterday, the Western Cape had 6 767 total confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 117 of the country’s 219 deaths.
Premier Alan Winde has also gone into self-quarantine after being in close contact with eNCA cameraman Lungile Tom, who died after testing positive for Covid-19.
Ramaphosa said alert Levels 3 to 1 allow a progressively greater relaxation of restrictions.
“For now, infections are mostly concentrated in a few metropolitan municipalities and districts in the country. It is important that we maintain stringent restrictions in these areas and restrict travel out of these areas to parts of the country with lower rates of infection,” Ramaphosa said.
“We will immediately begin a process of consultation with relevant stakeholders on a proposal that by the end of May, most of the country be placed on alert Level 3, but that those parts of the country with the highest rates of infection remain on Level 4. We will make further announcements after the completion of the consultations,” Ramaphosa said.
South Africa’s response to fighting Covid-19 has also been guided by advice from world-leading experts from the country and across the globe, Ramaphosa said.
“We have been warned that infections will inevitably rise as the lockdown measures are eased, as has happened in many countries. We also know that the coronavirus will continue to be a global health threat for some time to come, and that the fight against Covid-19 needs to become part of our daily lives,” said the president.
He announced that the country has embarked on its most extensive public health mobilisation in its history.
Ramaphosa said the country’s field workers have screened more than 9 million people, and 370000 coronavirus tests have been conducted.
This is the largest public health mobilisation in the history of our country.
“It has been made possible by the hard work and dedication of thousands of community workers, nurses, doctors and other health workers. They made enormous sacrifices to ensure the success of the lockdown.”
In addressing the scourge of gender-based violence, as “men of our country declared war on the women”, Ramaphosa said lockdown regulations will be structured in a way that a woman can leave her home to report abuse without fear of a fine, intimidation or further violence.
“There have been very disturbing reports of increased levels of gender-based violence since the lockdown started. The scourge of gender-based violence continues to stalk our country as the men of our country declared war on the women,” Ramaphosa said.
On the economic and social relief front, he said 3 million people have applied since three days ago when applications for the special Covid-19 grant of R350 a month for unemployed South Africans opened.
“We have introduced an economic and social relief package worth over R500 billion to help companies in distress, to save jobs and to provide some income to informal workers and poor households,” said Ramaphosa.
Since it was established, the special Covid-19 relief scheme of the Unemployment Insurance Fund has paid out over R11bn to 2 million employees employed by over 160 000 companies in distress. This will help to keep companies afloat and save millions of jobs.
“The various funds that we established to provide support for small businesses, including the initiatives of the Department of Small Business Development, the Department of Tourism, the Industrial Development Corporation and the South African Future Trust, have provided direct assistance to over 27 000 enterprises.
“As of today, the R200bn Covid-19 Loan Guarantee Scheme, which is guaranteed by the government, has begun to process applications from small and medium-sized businesses,” said Ramaphosa.
The national government’s gender-based violence and femicide command centre, which runs a toll free, 24/7 emergency call centre, can be reached by: Calling 0800 428 428; Sending a please call me to *120*7867#; Sending an SMS to 31531; and/or adding “HelpmeGBV” to your Skype contacts.
By Francesca Villette