This is Ramaphosa's 'three-pronged plan' to deal with the Covid-19 crisis

09 April 2020 - 21:39 By Qaanitah Hunter
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President Cyril Ramaphosa has outlined a three-pronged strategy to deal with Covid-19 and its consequences during a two-week extension of the nationwide lockdown.

In his address to the nation on Thursday night, Ramaphosa said the government’s priority was to intensify its public health response to slow down and reduce infections.

He has announced a two-week extension of the national lockdown, lasting until the end of April.

“Our approach is to screen in communities and test people in hospitals, clinics, and mobile clinics, to isolate those who are infected, and to care for those who are ill in our health facilities. We need to do this intensively and systematically,” Ramaphosa said.

He said government has used the past week to develop its screening and testing methodology in various parts of the country.

“Over the next two weeks, we will roll out the community screening and testing programme across all provinces, focusing in particular on highly vulnerable communities. Those who test positive and cannot self-isolate at home will be isolated at special facilities that have been identified and are now being equipped,” Ramaphosa said.

The second part of Ramaphosa’s strategy is a comprehensive package of economic support measures to assist businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic.

“As part of the second element of our strategy, we have put in place various measures to provide support to businesses in distress, to workers facing loss of income, to the self-employed and to informal businesses. Many of these measures are being taken up by both large and small businesses,” the president said.

So far, R356m of R40bn set aside by the Unemployment Insurance Fund to help employees has been taken up.

Ramaphosa called on businesses to continue paying suppliers and employees during this time.

“We must do all we can to ensure that the underlying economy continues to function and to focus support on those small businesses that really need them,” the president said.

Other economic relief included:

  • The Industrial Development Corporation has set aside R3bn for essential medical supplies;
  • The Small Enterprise Finance Agency has approved the postponement of loan repayments for a period of 6 months;
  • R500m is available for small business debt relief and business growth facilities;
  • R1.2bn reprioritised by government to provide relief to smallholder farmers and to contribute to the security of food supply; and
  • The Reserve Bank has also lowered interest rates and has taken measures to inject liquidity into the economy.

Ramaphosa said the third pillar of their strategy to deal with the global crisis was increased social support to protect poor and vulnerable households.

“As government, together with our many partners, we have used this lockdown period to both refine and intensify our public health strategy to manage the coronavirus,” Ramaphosa said.

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