You should still be able to walk the dog and jog during lockdown, says Zweli Mkhize

25 March 2020 - 11:42 By Tamar Kahn
A woman jogs at Munich's English Garden as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues. Picture: REUTERS/ANDREAS GEBERT.
A woman jogs at Munich's English Garden as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues. Picture: REUTERS/ANDREAS GEBERT.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize offered a ray of hope to SA’s dog owners and runners on Wednesday morning, saying these activities would be permitted during the three-week national lockdown, which begins at midnight on Thursday, according to BusinessLIVE.

The lockdown is intended to curb local transmission of Covid-19, which has spread to all nine provinces. As of Wednesday, the total number of reported cases stood at 709, with more than half the cases in Gauteng.

The lockdown announced by Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night is intended to limit contact between people as much as possible and is focused on ending the mingling of large groups of people, said Mkhize.

However, people would still be able to go for a jog, or walk their dog, he said.

“There shouldn’t be a problem with that,” he said, in an interview on SABC television.

The lockdown imposes tight restrictions on the movement of people, who are expected to stay at home except for shopping for essentials such as food and medicines, seeking health care or collecting social grants. Essential workers, including people who work in health care, emergency services, the police, army, and in the production and distribution of vital supplies such as food and pharmaceuticals are exempted from these rules.

Mkhize urged South Africans to heed the government’s call to limit social interaction, saying the lockdown was not intended to be a three-week holiday. If people failed to observe the rules set for the lockdown, it would not work, he said.

The biggest increase in the number of reported cases since Tuesday have been in Gauteng (64), the Western Cape (61), KwaZulu-Natal (11) and the Free State (15). Gauteng’s total now stands at 366 reported cases.

The minister said the concentration of cases around Mangaung in Free State was a worry, and the Red Cross was helping the health department trace people who had been at a church gathering attended by five travellers from overseas who tested positive for the disease. “This is an area of great concern,” he said, describing Mangaung as an emerging epicentre.

There are also clusters of Covid-19 in Sandton, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Cape Town, he said.

The main source of the disease remained travellers from European countries, but there was as growing number of cases of local transmission. The minister said there had been no deaths, and only two patients were in intensive care. Five of the first cases had completely recovered and had tested negative for Covid-19.

So far three health care workers have tested positive for Covid-19, he said.