'Chinese lockdown kept our citizens safe from virus in Wuhan': Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa believes the lockdown by Chinese authorities was the reason South African citizens returned home from Wuhan not infected with Covid-19.
Ramaphosa was referring to those who were airlifted from China and kept in quarantine at The Ranch resort in Polokwane for 14 days.
They have since been released after testing negative for Covid-19 despite spending time in Wuhan, regarded as the epicentre of the virus in China.
“The experience of the South Africans in Wuhan demonstrates the effectiveness – and the necessity – of a state of lockdown,” Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly newsletter on Monday.
“It was due to the drastic actions that the Chinese government took to contain the disease in the city of Wuhan, that all of our people were able to return uninfected and healthy.”
This comes as a number of South Africans and international media complained about the stringent measures put in place by the government during the 21-day national lockdown.
After announcing the lockdown on Monday last week, Ramaphosa’s ministers announced strict measures, including a ban on the sale of non-essential goods.
Taverns and restaurants are closed and citizens are banned from activities such as jogging and walking their dogs.
Amy Pittaway was on board the airbus A340-600 carrying South Africans coming from Wuhan, China on March 14 2020. The mission saw at least 114 South Africans repatriated from the former coronavirus epicentre back home. Pittaway takes us along her journey from Wuhan back to South Africa.
But Ramaphosa said it was clear that the most effective way to contain the spread of the virus was for the population to stay at home.
“It is important that this lockdown and all other emergency measures are both strictly adhered to and consistently enforced.
“As the South Africans from Wuhan can testify, such restrictions on daily life, on movement and on ordinary human contact are extremely difficult to endure. In the South African context, a lockdown brings additional hardship and strain, and we are doing everything within our means to lessen the impact on our people,” said Ramaphosa.
He said the lesson from the South Africans in Wuhan was that a lockdown worked.
“It shows that if we strictly observe the rules in place to stop the virus spreading, we will be able to bring infection rates down. It shows that if we co-operate with health authorities in doing what we have to do, we won’t be just saving our own lives but those around us too,” he added.
He said the story of the South African returnees should give “encouragement and hope in the difficult weeks that lie ahead”.
“Their story tells us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that if we stay the course, that if we remain disciplined and respect the lockdown, that if we work together, we will overcome,” he wrote.
Various travel restrictions in and out of South Africa are in place following the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa of a national lockdown between midnight of March 26 and April 16 2020. Local travel between provinces has also been prohibited. Here's all you need to know about travel in and out of SA.