Praise for president Ramaphosa after first week of lockdown

 ·3 Apr 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa has received praise for his swift and “ruthless efficiency” in dealing with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

When so many leading countries have been criticised for their slow response in dealing with the outbreak, Andrew Harding, Africa correspondent for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) noted that a week into South Africa’s nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, “it is tempting – dangerously tempting – to breathe a sigh of relief”.

“After all, look at how much has already been achieved. More than 47,000 people have been tested, and 67 mobile testing units have been organised.

“There are even drive-through testing centres. Soon the country will be able to test 30,000 people every day. To date, only five deaths from the virus have been confirmed. About 1,400 have tested positive for Covid-19,” he said.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, as of Thursday, stands at 1,462. Five deaths have been recorded, with two yet to be confirmed, said health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize.

Mkhize, who attributed the restraint of the spread to the nationwide lockdown, warned against complacency, and has emphasised that the country is only on the cusp of the outbreak.

“Our current projections are still indicating that we need to get out and find those who could be infected in the community.

“We are ready to fight. We are prepared. We must not be lulled into complacency,” he said.

Of the 82 new confirmed cases on Thursday, the Eastern Cape reported 2; Free State 8; Gauteng 18; KwaZulu-Natal 20; Limpopo 2; Mpumalanga 1; Western Cape 27, with four cases that were unallocated.

On the number of Covid-19 deaths, the health minister said the department was still awaiting verification on two cases. He also announced 45 Coronavirus recoveries in the country.

Global count

The new coronavirus has now infected more than 1 million people across the world, a milestone reached just four months after it first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Bloomberg reported.

More than 53,000 have died and 211,000 recovered in what has become the biggest global public health crisis of our time.

With some virus carriers presenting few outward signs of illness, and many countries unable or unwilling to conduct wider testing, the true number of global infections is likely higher — some say far higher — than 1 million, Bloomberg said.

The US now has the most cases officially recorded globally with more than 245,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, which draws on a combination of data sources — from governments to the World Health Organisation and local media — to feed its tallies.

Next is Italy, with just over 115,000, the JHU data shows. Italy has the highest death toll with almost 14,000 virus fatalities, followed by Spain.

More to come

New York City is very much at the epicentre, with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying that the country is “not in a position” to deal with the hospital crisis that will happen when cases of the new coronavirus surge.

The nation has days, not weeks, to prepare, de Blasio said Friday in an interview on MSNBC.

More than 1,500 people have died in New York City from Covid-19, and “we have not even gotten to the hard part of this,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio said the city of 8.6 million people only has enough ventilators to get to Sunday or Monday.

“Next week is what worries me,” the mayor said. “The nation’s not on a war footing, and yet we’re fighting a war.”

Top public health officials in the US have warned that US deaths could reach 240,000.

Praise for Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa, Harding said, “has emerged as a formidable leader – composed, compassionate, but seized by the urgency of the moment and wasting no time in imposing tough restrictive steps and galvanising crucial support from the private sector”.

South Africa seems to have acted faster, more efficiently, and more ruthlessly than many other countries around the world, he said.

He also praised minister Mkhize, who has “garnered near universal praise for his no-nonsense, energetic performance, and his sober, deeply knowledgeable, daily briefings”.

“What we may currently be experiencing is the calm before a heavy and devastating storm,” said Dr Mkhize earlier this week.

“Unless we move fast we will soon be swarmed. There will therefore be no further warning before the pounding descends upon us.

“There will not be time to prepare what we will not have put in place in the next seven days,” Dr Mkhize said.

Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku meanwhile, told eNCA on Friday that as many as 60% of Gauteng’s population could become infected.

“In terms of modelling it will be difficult to articulate a particular figure, but I would say that we are looking at 60% of the community will be infected. If you are looking at Gauteng this would be around 9 million out of 15 million people.”

Read: South Africa could be downgraded further, economists warn

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