SA government vs Covid-19: Five must-read stories on fighting the outbreak

27 March 2020 - 07:11 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Troops will help the police implement the lockdown.
Troops will help the police implement the lockdown.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

The government has been on high alert since the first case of coronavirus three weeks ago. As more citizens test positive, with confirmed cases now at 709, more has been done to prevent further spread of the deadly virus.

Here are five must-read stories on government's attempts to fight Covid-19:

Quarantine centre

Announcing a 38-year-old man from KwaZulu-Natal as the first coronavirus case in SA, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the government had identified a quarantine centre which would house patients diagnosed in the province.

The man had travelled to Italy with 10 other South Africans. Shortly after the diagnosis, the health ministry started contact tracing people who had been in direct contact with the man in an effort to contain the virus.

Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the police took to the streets of Johannesburg in the early hours of March 27 2020 to enforce the curfew set for the country's lockdown. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown between midnight of March 26 2020 until April 16 2020.

Limpopo resort 

The 122 South Africans formerly based in Wuhan, China, were evacuated and are  undergoing quarantine at a Limpopo resort. They all tested negative for the virus, but are under quarantine as a precautionary measure.

Police and the military were deployed to ensure safety at the resort.

Mkhize said the evacuation was the government's response to requests made by the group to be repatriated from Wuhan. 

Coronavirus a national disaster, school closures and travel bans 

President Ramaphosa announced last week measures taken by government to contain the coronavirus. They included travel bans, closures of many of SA's ports of entry, such as airports, some ports and border posts.

Schools were also closed in line with the ban on gatherings of people in groups of 100 or more.

Citizens were also discouraged from travelling to high risk countries including the US, China and South Korea.


On Monday, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced that SA would be under lockdown from midnight on Thursday until midnight on April 16. This means businesses would close and the movement of citizens be limited.

Public servants, including health-care workers, police and members of the military were exempt from the lockdown as they are central in the fight against coronavirus.

Police and the military will be deployed to areas identified as high risk to ensure correct implementation of lockdown rules, said Ramaphosa.

Safety at correctional services

Justice minister Ronald Lamola on Wednesday said offenders and officials in SA's prisons would be safe as control measures were being taken by government. Lamola was responding to concerns raised by the Public Servants Association of SA (PSA) about the overcrowded prisons.

It said should the offenders or officials get infected due to a lack of protective gear, the country's prison system would collapse.

“As the country has been placed on lockdown, correctional facilities will function, but certain activities will be suspended and we will continue not accepting visits. Correctional officials render an essential service and they will therefore be expected to be at work,” Lamola said.