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Covid-19 state of disaster extended to September 15 as Ramaphosa prepares to address nation

15 August 2020 - 13:54 By TimesLIVE
President Cyril Ramaphosa during one of his previous Sunday evening addresses to the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Cyril Ramaphosa during one of his previous Sunday evening addresses to the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation about the Covid-19 state of disaster at 8pm on Saturday.

The announcement came as co-operative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma published a government gazette extending the Covid-19 state of disaster for another month, until September 15.

Dlamini-Zuma said the extension took into account “the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the disaster”.

Ramaphosa's spokesperson, Tyrone Seale, said Ramaphosa's address followed a meeting of the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) on Tuesday and meetings of the president’s co-ordinating council and cabinet on Saturday.

There has been widespread speculation that as various Covid-19 graphs head downwards following the peak in the local pandemic towards the end of July, Ramaphosa will ease the lockdown from alert level 3 to level 2, allowing the economy to get back into full swing.

Seale's brief statement said: “President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 20h00 this evening, Saturday 15 August 2020, on developments in SA’s risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of Covid-19.

“The president’s address will be broadcast live on television and radio and will be streamed live on a range of online platforms.”

Dlamini-Zuma and trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel are expected to reveal details of the new level of lockdown early next week.

Last Sunday, a forum made up of directors-general of national departments (Fosad) decided to recommend to the NCCC that almost all sectors of the economy be reopened except crowded places, but under strict enforcement of social distancing, hand sanitisation and wearing of masks.

Two people at the meeting said the dominant view among directors-general was that the economy had taken a battering and that more sectors should be reopened to fire it up again.

SA, which has recorded 579,140 Covid-19 infections and 11,556 deaths, has enforced one of the strictest lockdowns in its battle against Covid-19. This includes prohibiting the sale of alcohol and tobacco and enforcing a night-time curfew.

In its weekly report on excess deaths on Wednesday, the Medical Research Council suggested that SA might have passed its epidemic peak in late July.

The number of active infections on Friday was 105,850, 39% lower than the peak reached on July 20.