South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday extended a lockdown aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus by two weeks to the end of April.
In a speech broadcast to the nation, Ramaphosa said the lockdown of Africa’s most industrialized economy, which has been in effect since March 27, has succeeded in reducing the country’s average daily increase of new COVID-19 cases from 42% to about 4%.
“An economic stimulus package was one of the three pillars of South Africa’s Covid-19 response strategy”, Ramaphosa said. The country would also intensify its public health response to slow down and reduce infections, and would increase social support to poor and vulnerable households.
The government initially imposed a 21-day lockdown on March 27. It’s being enforced by the police and military and only allows people to leave their homes to buy food, collect welfare grants and seek medical care — unless they provide essential services.
South Africa has confirmed 1,934 Covid-19 infections — the most in Africa — since the first one was detected on March 5. There were 89 new infections reported on Thursday, with cases confirmed in all nine provinces.
The President also announced that senior politicians would donate a third of their salaries to help those worst affected by the pandemic and urged business leaders to do the same.