Ramaphosa on extended lockdown: 'We did not take this decision lightly'
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa announced an extension to the nationwide lockdown on April 9 2020. Speaking in Pretoria, the president said that while there is evidence that the lockdown has helped in the fight against Covid-19, an additional two weeks is needed to continue efforts to reduce new infections.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the decision to extend the national lockdown until the end of April was not taken lightly.
Addressing the nation on Thursday, Ramaphosa announced a two-week extension of the national lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“This evening, I stand before you to ask you to endure even longer. I have to ask you to make even greater sacrifices so that our country may survive this crisis and so that tens of thousands of lives may be saved. After careful consideration of the available evidence, the national coronavirus command council has decided to extend the nationwide lockdown by a further two weeks beyond the initial 21 days. This means that most of the existing lockdown measures will remain in force until the end of April,” Ramaphosa said.
He said while evidence showed that the lockdown had helped curb the spread of the virus, the struggle against the coronavirus was far from over.
“We did not take this decision to extend the lockdown lightly. As your president, I am mindful of the great and heavy burden this will impose on you. I am keenly aware of the impact this will have on our economy.
“But I know, as you do, that unless we take these difficult measures now, unless we hold this course for a little longer, the coronavirus pandemic will ultimately come to our country,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said SA’s priority must remain to slow down the spread of the virus and prevent a massive loss of life.
“Simply put, if we end the lockdown too soon or too abruptly, we risk a massive and uncontrollable resurgence of the disease. We risk reversing the gains we have made over the last few weeks, and rendering meaningless the great sacrifices we have all made,” Ramaphosa said.
On Thursday, there were 1,934 confirmed cased of Covid-19 in the country.
Ramaphosa said the extension of the lockdown would be used to ramp up public health interventions.
He said he had a three-pronged strategy to deal with the pandemic which consists, firstly, of an intensified public health response to slow down and reduce infections.
The second component was a “comprehensive package of economic support measures to assist businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic”, while the third was a programme of increased social support to “protect poor and vulnerable households”.
Ramaphosa noted in his address that while government works to save lives, they will have to work to prevent the economy from collapsing and “saving our people from hunger”.
“We are determined to pursue a path that both saves lives and protects livelihoods,” Ramaphosa said.