A week in lockdown: five stories you need to read

05 April 2020 - 14:53 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Mixed messages have been put out about whether face masks are effective in minimising exposure to Covid-19.
Mixed messages have been put out about whether face masks are effective in minimising exposure to Covid-19.
Image: 123RF / maridav

It's been just over one week since the government's official 21-day lockdown of SA began, and for many it has been a long and trying time.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lockdown last month, requiring all South Africans, except emergency workers and essential-service providers, to stay at home to halt the spread of Covid-19.

A lot has happened over the past seven days, from the battle over whether we can buy cigarettes, to questions about face masks and the spread of the virus to townships.

Here are five must-read stories since the lockdown began.

Rising numbers, should we be concerned?

As of Thursday, SA had 1,462 confirmed cases with five recorded deaths. Two other reported deaths are yet to be officially confirmed. SA also has 95 recoveries.

While recognising a slowing down in the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has warned that it could be the calm before the storm.

On Thursday, speaking at the Universitas Hospital in the Free State, Mkhize said the death toll linked to Covid-19 was being investigated, as there were two cases the ministry was trying to get correct information about.

Cases in townships 

Residents in townships grew increasingly concerned after cases were detected in Khayelitsha, Alexandra and KwaMashu townships.

TimesLIVE reported that residents in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, allegedly threatened “to drive out” the first patient from the community if she is released from hospital.

Lockdown extension on the cards?

The question on everyone's lips is whether the lockdown will be extended beyond the 21 days.

According to co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the government “doesn't have all the facts” yet to consider whether it should be extended.

She said on Thursday night that it is “too soon” to tell.

Wearing face masks. Yes or no? 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has strongly advised wearing a mask and gloves in public only if you suspect you’re infected or someone you are caring for is.

WHO said there was no specific evidence to suggest the wearing of masks by the mass population had any potential benefit.

However, health ministry spokesperson Lwazi Manzi on Wednesday said masks were one of the best ways of preventing the spread of infection, recommending them to people who find themselves in a situation where “social distancing is a bit difficult”.

Can I get a ciggie?

Police minister Bheki Cele took a jab at the DA-run Western Cape government after it relaxed lockdown regulations in the province on the sale of cigarettes.

Cele said the police will not implement “the so-called provincial regulations” and cigarettes will not be sold anywhere, including the Western Cape.