The government will soon launch a “far-reaching and intensive” coronavirus (COVID-19) screening and testing drive around the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.
In an address to the nation on Monday evening, Ramaphosa also said the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has risen to 1,326, with three deaths so far.
He said, “We are now entering a new face in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. In the coming days, government will be rolling out a screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme on a huge scale.”
The President added, “Around 10,000 fieldworkers will be visiting homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents for coronavirus symptoms. People with symptoms will be referred to local clinics or mobile clinics for testing.
“People who are infected with coronavirus but who have no or moderate symptoms will remain in isolation at home or at a facility provided by government, and those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals.”
The government will also use mobile technology to trace those who have been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases and to monitor the geographical spread of new cases, he added.
Ramaphosa thanked South Africans for acting in a “disciplined” manner during this period and reiterated that implementing the lockdown was “the correct decision.”
Ramaphosa also said the recent Moody’s rating agency’s downgrade of South Africa to a sub-investment grade will negatively affect the economy.
He added, “This development will not diminish in any way our response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Within the constraints of the current crisis, we remain committed to implementing structural economic reforms to address weak economic growth, address constrained public finances and struggling state-owned enterprises.”
The President further announced that the government is urgently developing additional measures for informal businesses and self-employed South Africans who have been hit hard by the lockdown.
Motsepe and Naspers donations
Additionally, he thanked entities that have made commitments to donate funds and supplies towards the fight against COVID-19.
Specifically, he mentioned the Motsepe Foundation (R1 billion), the Naspers Company (R1.5 billion), and Alibaba founder Jack Ma (vital medical supplies).
“We would like to thank our nurses, doctors and other health workers, our social workers and frontline government staff, and volunteers and NGOs who are leading the fight against the disease,” Ramaphosa added.
The President addressed concerns that some security personnel, including the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), have been heavy handed in their approach to enforcing the lockdown.
He said, “We have made it clear that the task of our security personnel is to support, reassure and comfort our people, and to ensure that peace and order is maintained in our country.
“They know that they must act within the law at all times and that they must not cause harm to any of our people in any way whatsoever.”