Ramaphosa’s Covid warning to South Africa

 ·21 Jun 2021
Cyril Ramaphosa South African President

President Cyril Ramaphosa says that South Africa is now in the midst of a third wave of Covid-19 infections, and has warned that every citizen will need to do their part to help limit the toll – including adhering to lockdown regulations, and even going beyond the gazetted requirements if they can.

Writing in his weekly open letter to the public, Ramaphosa said that when the virus surges to this extent, the economy also faces challenges.

“Workers have to isolate or quarantine, people stop going out for recreation or shopping, tourism comes to a standstill, and workplaces have to spend more money to prevent infections.”

However, the president said it was incorrect to speak about a trade-off between lives and livelihoods.

“Rather, we need to invest our time, effort and resources to control the pandemic to see a payoff, in terms of both falling case numbers, reduced deaths and economic recovery.

“The climb in new cases has been extraordinarily rapid and steep over the past few weeks. The number of daily new cases jumped from below 800 in early April to over 13,000 in the past week. In other words, it increased more than fifteen-fold from the last low point.”

What we need to do 

Ramaphosa said that South Africans all know what they have to do to bring the rate of infection down, and the country must act with great discipline to protect its people and livelihoods.

“Once again, we have to avoid social gatherings of all kinds, whether for family, friends, business or recreation. We must work from home if we can.

“We must wear masks when other people are around and stay one and a half metres from other people whenever possible. Although we find ourselves in the middle of winter, we need to ensure good ventilation when indoors or in public transport, for instance by opening windows.”

He added that it was not only the task of the vulnerable or the healthcare sector to control the virus but requires every South African to do their part, to accept that the country cannot go back to pre-pandemic days but must rather build a new normal that is safe for everyone.

Gauteng hardest hit

Ramaphosa said that Gauteng is currently the hardest-hit province, and this week the number of new cases exceeded the peak in both previous waves, and it has not started to decline yet.

As a result, hospitals are reaching capacity, and healthcare workers are exhausted, he said.

“Gauteng looks small on the map. But it is home to one in five South Africans and two-fifths of our economy. As an economic hub, many people travel to and from this province. We need to turn this around urgently, or lives and livelihoods will be seriously under threat.”


The president said that government plans to provide vaccinations for the vast majority of adults in South Africa by the end of the year.

“It is crucial that, when you become eligible, you get the jab as soon as possible. Our priority in this phase is to vaccinate all five million people over the age of 60.

“This week, we also plan to start vaccinating half a million educators and others in the sector since their work requires social contact and is vital for our children, our economy and our future,” he said.

Ramaphosa said that South Africans should also play their part in ensuring the fast and smooth rollout of the vaccine campaign.

“If our family members, friends, neighbours or employees need help, we should support them in registering and getting to vaccine sites. We will only be able to effectively contain this disease when we succeed in rolling out vaccinations on a large scale.

“Our country has experienced many hardships in the past. However, we overcame them by understanding the challenges we faced, developing appropriate strategies, and implementing them together.

“As we have done before, we need to work as one to prevent infections and reduce the effects of this virus on us.”

Read: Schools will remain open in South Africa, says Motshekga

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter