South Africa has announced a nationwide lockdown as more of its citizens continue to test positive for COVID-19.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says that the order will go into effect on today and last for 21 days. The number of cases skyrocketed from 61 to more than 400 in just a week — with more than 140 cases in only 24 hours.
“The next few days are crucial. Without decisive action, the number of actions will increase. This extremely dangerous for a population like ours. Our fundamental task is to contain the spread of the disease. We must, therefore, do everything to reduce the overall number of infections,” Ramaphosa said.
“The numbers will continue to rise. It is clear that…we need to urgently and dramatically escalate our response,” Ramaphosa continued, adding that the number could quickly rise, “within a few weeks,” to hundreds of thousands of cases if nothing was done.
During the lockdown, citizens are advised to “stay at home” until midnight on April 16, the Johannesburg Sunday Times reported.
The president stressed the importance of following the order.
“This is a decisive measure to save the lives of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of our people. While these measures will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater,” said the president.
So far, more than 9,300 South Africans have tested positive for COVID-19.