President Ramaphosa Coronavirus Nation Address

President Cyril Ramaphosa gives an update on the State of the National Lockdown​

Nuus.News Article Summary:

Breaking News: the President of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa has just declared that South Africa is lifting its lockdown gradually .

All non-essential services companies closed down from Friday 27 March 2020. All South African citizens are locked down will be confined to their houses, and only allowed to move out of their houses to buy the necessary food or to go to seek medical help with doctors.

A gradual lifting of the lockdown is proposed, with only one third of people allowed to go back to work in certain sectors. Details below.

Nuus.News Watch: President Cyril Ramaphosa gives an update on the State of the National Lockdown

Below is a transcript of the Nation Address President Cyril Ramaphosa made in response to the corona virus situation in South Africa, regarding gradual lifting of the nation wide lockdown. Have a look at the details (with category headings supplied by Nuus.News for reading ease)  

State of the National Lockdown

My fellow South Africans it has been exactly seven weeks since the first case of corona virus was confirmed in our country. Since then all our lives have changed in fundamental ways as a nation. We’ve been forced to take aggressive action against an invincible enemy that has threatened our lives and the lives of our loved ones. We have been forced to adapt to a new way of living in a short space of time as we enter the fifth week of an unprecedented nationwide lockdown and as we look to the future we should remember why we are here .

The novel coronavirus which was identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year has spread rapidly across the world today to over 2.6 million confirmed cases have been reported worldwide. The actual number of people identified is likely to be far higher. The corona virus, the disease known as COVID-19, is a respiratory illness for which humans currently have no immunity and for which there is no cure. The corona virus is passed from person to person in small droplets from the nose and mouth that can be transmitted by direct contact on surfaces that we touch every day or when an infected person coughs or sneezes when they are close to another person.

Most infected people exhibit only mild symptoms, some do not show any symptoms at all, some do not even know they have this disease but there are people who develop severe symptoms and require hospitalization. These are usually older people and those who suffer from underlying conditions such as heart disease diabetes chronic respiratory disease and cancer. For some of these people COVID-19 is fatal and they die.

Across the world, more than hundred and eighty-five thousand people have succumbed to the disease here in South Africa at least seventy-five people have lost their lives now. Because the corona virus can spread so rapidly through a population it can overwhelm even the best resourced health systems within a matter of weeks. This is what has occurred in many countries across the world and it is precisely this that we as South Africa have gone to great lengths to prevent. Very few health systems across the world if any, are prepared for a sudden and exponential increase in people requiring treatment for a severe respiratory illness. As a result if the virus spreads too quickly, there are not enough hospital beds, intensive care units, ventilators, personal protection equipment or medicines for everyone who needs them. To make matters worse, people who are suffering from other conditions or need emergency procedures are unable to get the care that they need and in such circumstances many lives that could have been saved are lost.

I’m reiterating these basic facts which by now are known to many of us because they explain the actions we have taken to date and they inform the measures I am announcing this evening from the moment we declared the pandemic to be a national disaster on Sunday 15th March. Our objective was to delay the spread of the virus. We have sought to avoid a massive surge in infections and an uncontrollable increase in the number of people needing medical care. Our approach has been based on the principles of social distancing, restriction of movement and stringent basic hygiene practices by delaying the spread of the virus. We have had time to prepare our health facilities and mobilize some of the essential medical supplies that are needed to meet the unavoidable increase in infections and it is in doing so that we hope to save tens of thousands of lives.

There is clear evidence that the lockdown has been working, together with other measures we have taken such as closing our borders and the changes in behavior that each of us has made. The lockdown has actually slowed down the progression of the pandemic in the country. The World Health Organization has commended and praised South Africa for acting swiftly and for following scientific advice to delay the spread of the virus yet while in a lockdown is probably the most effective means to contain the spread of the virus.

It cannot be sustained indefinitely. Our people need to eat, they need to earn a living. Companies need to be able to produce, enter trade, they need to generate revenue and keep their employees in employment.

Lifting of lockdown measures

We have accordingly decided that beyond Thursday the 30th of April we should begin a gradual and phased recovery of economic activity. We will implement what we call a risk-adjusted strategy through which we take a deliberate and cautious approach to the easing of current lockdown restrictions. We’ve decided on this approach because there is still much that is unknown about the rate and the manner of the spread of the virus within our own population. The action we take now must therefore be measured and incremental. This approach is guided by the advice from scientists who have advised that an abrupt and uncontrolled lifting of restrictions could cause a massive resurgence in infections. We cannot take action today that we will deeply regret tomorrow. We must avoid a rushed reopening that could risk a spread which would need to be followed by another hard lockdown as has happened in other countries .We have to balance the needs to resume economic activity whether imperative to contain the virus and save lives.

Coronavirus levels

To achieve this we have developed an approach that determines the measures we should have in place based on the direction of the pandemic in our country. As part of this approach there will be five coronavirus levels:

  1. the first level is what we call level 5 which means that drastic measures are required to contain the spread of the virus to save lives
  2. level 4 means that some activity can be allowed to resume subjects to extreme precautions required to limit community transmission and outbreaks
  3. level 3 involves the easing of some restrictions including on work and social activities to address high risk of transmission
  4. level 2 involves the further easing of restrictions but the maintenance of physical distancing and restrictions on some leisure and social activities to prevent a resurgence of the virus level
  5. 1 means that most normal activity can resume with precautions and health guidelines followed at all times to ensure that our response to the pandemic can be as precise and targeted as possible.

There will be a national level and separate levels for each province, district and Metro in the country. We are currently at level 5 which requires a full national lockdown to contain the spread of the virus this is the highest level of lockdown and was imposed when drastic action was necessary to curb transmission.

The National coronavirus Command Council will determine the level based on an assessment of the infection rate and the capacity of our health system to provide care for those who need it. We have undertaken a detailed exercise to classify the different parts of the economy according to the risk of transmission in that sector the expected impact of the lockdown, the economic contribution of the sector and the effect on livelihoods. Our ministers will provide a detailed briefing on the classification of industries and how each is affected at each level. We will give all industry bodies an opportunity to consider these details and should they wish to make submissions before new regulations are gazetted they are free to do so.

Coronavirus alert level 4 to be enacted from 1 May 2020

The National Coronavirus Command Council met earlier today and determined that the National called Coronavirus alert level will be lowered from level 5 to level 4 with the effect from Friday the 1st of May.

This means that some activity will be allowed to resume, subject to extreme precautions to limit community transmission and outbreaks. Some businesses will be allowed to resume operations under specific conditions. Every business we’ll have to adhere to detailed health and safety protocols to protect their employees and workplace plans will have to be put in place to enable disease surveillance and prevent the spread of infection.

All businesses that are permitted to resume operations will be required to do so in a phased manner. First preparing the workplace where returned to operations followed by the return of the workforce in batches of no more than one third of their workforce. In some cases a sector will not be able to return to full production during level four while the risk of infection remains high. These will be spelled out next week following a final round of consultations.

Businesses will be encouraged to adopt a work from home strategy where possible all staff who can work remotely must be allowed to do so. The relevant ministers will provide details on the process for the phased reopening of schools and other educational institutions as we gradually ease the restrictions. It is necessary that many of the measures to contain the spread of the virus remain in place.

When the country moves to level 4 on the 1st of May the following will happen:

  • Our borders will remain closed to international travel, except for the repatriation of South African nationals and foreign citizens.
  • No travel will be allowed between provinces except for the transportation of goods and exceptional circumstances such as funerals.
  • Public transport will continue to operate with limitations on the number of passengers and stringent hygiene requirements including that all passengers must wear a face mask
  • The public is encouraged to stay at home other than for essential personnel movement doing essential work and work in sectors that are under controlled opening
    People can exercise under strict public health conditions that will be spelt out
  • All gatherings apart from funerals and for work will remain prohibited
  • Those who are elderly and those with underlying conditions must remain at home and take additional precautions to isolate themselves
  • The sale sale of cigarettes will be permitted
  • The range of goods that may be sold will be extended to incorporate certain additional categories. These will be detailed by the relevant ministers.

It is important to note that several restrictions will remain in place regardless of the level of alert for as long as the risk of transmission is present, for instance:

  • bars and shebeens will remain closed,
  • conference and convention centers,
  • entertainment venues,
  • cinemas, theaters and concerts remain closed.
  • Concerts and sporting events and religious, cultural and social gatherings will not be allowed until it is deemed safe for them to continue.

The corona virus is spread as we have said before by contact between people. If people do not travel and move around the virus does not travel. We know for example that just one funeral in Port st. John’s in the Eastern Cape and one religious gathering in Mangaung held in the Free State contributed to a spate of infections in their respective provinces. From the evidence we have, we know that 75% of confirmed coronavirus cases are found in our country in just six Metro municipalities and they are Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Cape Town, Buffalo City, Ethikwinii and Mangaung.

It is therefore essential that we do everything in our means to restrict the movement of people and although it runs counter to our very nature as human beings to reduce the contact that each of us has with each other, ultimately, it is our own actions as individuals that will determine how quickly the virus spreads. If we all adhere to instructions and follow Public Health guidelines we’ll keep the virus under control and will not need to reinstate the most drastic measures.

We can prevent the spread of the corona virus by doing a few simple things as we have said in the past: washing our hands free currently with soap and water and the use of alcohol-based sanitizers, keeping a distance of more than one meter between yourself and the next person especially those who are coughing and sneezing. Try not to touch your mouth your nose and eyes because your hands may have touched the coronavirus on surfaces. I know this is difficult to do but it is a precaution that we must try and practice. When you cough or sneeze cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue and dispose of the tissue right away.

All South Africans to wear face masks

As we begin the easing of lockdown restrictions from the beginning of May we are calling on all South Africans to wear a face mask whenever you leave home.

Our clothing and textile industry, including small businesses are gearing up to produce these masks on a mass scale. The extraordinary measures that we have put in place to combat the corona virus pandemic have been matched by the extraordinary contributions of many South Africans. We pay tribute to them, the nurses, the doctors, the scientists and the community screening field workers who are leading our public health response. We are committed to ensuring that they have all the resources they need including adequate personal protection equipment and other recognition to undertake the work that is being asked of them.

As we slowly ease the lockdown and restrictions, we are substantially and rapidly increasing our public health response. We have already seen a huge increase in community screening and testing that is going on throughout the country guided by advice from the World Health Organization and the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We have joined other African countries in placing mass screening and testing at the center of the next phase of our response. Earlier in the week I announced an additional allocation of twenty billion rand to our health response to ensure that we have the beds, the medicine, the equipment and personnel that are required when the country experiences the peak of infections.

This evening I also want to pay tribute to those who are providing essential services and goods, the truck, taxi, bus and train drivers, the workers on our farms and staff at power stations and water plants, at petrol stations, in the banks and call centers, law enforcement officials and security personnel. It is thanks to your efforts that we have been able to make such valuable progress in combating this pandemic.


The department of Tourism pledge to coronavirus stricken tourism enterprises

The Department of Tourism has made additional 200 million rand available to assist small medium enterprises in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under particular stress due to the new travel restrictions we have imposed. I want to make it clear that we expect all South Africans to act in the interests of the South African nation and not in their own selfish interest we will therefore act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from this crisis.

70,000 Soldiers to aid policing citizens

As part of expanding this effort I have employed over 70,000 Defence Force personnel to assist with various parts of our coronavirus response. Until now those Defence Force members that have been deployed have supported the South African Police Service in their responsibilities. They will continue to do so but they will also be providing assistance in other essential areas, such as the provision of water supply, infrastructure, maintenance and health services. This is a crucial moment in our struggle against the virus, there is a time for caution, it is also a time to act responsibly, but it is also a time for patience. There is no person who does not want to return to work and to normal life, there is no company that does not want to reopen its doors for normal economic activity and there is no student who does not want to return to their classrooms and to their studies, yet we are all called upon at some time in our lives to make great sacrifices for our own future and for the future of others. There are times when we must endure hardship and difficulty, so that we can enjoy freedom and prosperity into the future.


During the past five weeks we have demonstrated to the entire world what a nation can achieve with courage determination and solidarity. We must not give up now. I am asking you to stay strong and focused, I am asking you to remain united. Let us continue staying at home, let us continue staying safe and thank you for all that you have done and continue to do. May God continue to bless South Africa and continue to protect her people I thank you thank you.

Nationwide calls to prayer

If you are on a prayer group or would like to get your church involved in a nationwide movement in which the church is standing up, whether it be against unethical laws or corona viruses, please leave your details on the News.News contact page. Put your congregation’s details in the comment section. Someone will contact you with more information. The Good News in all these uncertainties is that, as the church prays, miracles happen and circumstances change. When the Church applies the Word, Good will prevail. Acts 12: 5-11. The sooner the Church wakes up and rises to the occasion the better.

There is a daily prayer at 12noon streamed on Facebook everyday in the fight against coronavirus and its knock-on effects.  Click here to find out more.

Be inspired and encouraged by uplifting music in a time of solidarity and listen to the testimony covered in the song that destroys enemies: “I raise a hallelujah” by clicking here

One can also join 24/7/365 world wide live prayers here.

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