State considering 21-day lockdown to halt spread of Covid-19

23 March 2020 - 18:11 By TAMAR KAHN
One of the proposals being considered by the government is a 21-day 'stay at home' national lock down in which individuals will be allowed to leave their homes only in strictly controlled circumstances, such as buying food, seeking medical care or visiting a pharmacy.
One of the proposals being considered by the government is a 21-day 'stay at home' national lock down in which individuals will be allowed to leave their homes only in strictly controlled circumstances, such as buying food, seeking medical care or visiting a pharmacy.
Image: Picture: 123RF/Jarun Ontakrai

A three-week national lockdown is among the proposals being weighed up by the government as it considers how best to manage SA’s surging Covid-19 outbreak, BusinessLIVE reported.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation on Monday evening, and announce further restrictions on trade, travel and social interaction to try to contain the outbreak, which has reached 402 cases in less than three weeks since the first case was announced on March 5.

He declared a national state of disaster on March 15, announcing sweeping measures to try to slow transmission of the virus, but the number of cases has risen more than six-fold since then, casting doubt on the efficacy of the measures imposed to date. There were 61 confirmed cases on March 15.

Ramaphosa met business leaders on Sunday, and then convened a meeting of the national command council which he established to co-ordinate SA’s response to Covid-19. A critical issue being weighed up by government is the trade-off between saving lives and further damaging the economy.

One of the proposals on the table is a 21-day “stay at home” national lockdown in which individuals will be allowed to leave their homes only under strictly controlled circumstances, such as buying food, seeking medical care or visiting a pharmacy.

The plan, seen by Business Day, proposes that homeless people either stay where they are or in temporary accommodation sites. Essential personnel such as health-care professionals and the police will be exempted from these restrictions.

The plan, which draws on China’s experience, proposes reducing transport and movement by closing some modes of public transport and minor roads, leaving only the main roads open.

It also proposes a huge house-to-house screening and testing programme to identify as many cases as possible, and careful monitoring of the data to identify hotspots.


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