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09 Apr 2020 | 03:25 PM UTC

South Africa: Authorities extend nationwide lockdown to April 30 due to COVID-19 /update 8

South Africa extends nationwide lockdown to April 30 due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related concerns; follow government directives

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Event

On Thursday, April 9, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that a nationwide lockdown set to expire on April 17 has been extended by two weeks to Thursday, April 30, to prevent further spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The lockdown, which was originally announced on Monday, March 23, prohibits people from leaving their homes unless they are buying food, seeking medical help, or collecting social grants. Emergency responders, health workers, and security services staff are exempted from the measures. All businesses have been ordered to close except for supermarkets, pharmacies, laboratories, banks, petrol stations, health-care providers, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. In addition, nearly 20,000 police and soldiers have been deployed to maintain order and ensure that people are respecting lockdown measures.

To date, there have been 1845 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide and 18 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia. 

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.