President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday conveyed his condolences to South Africans who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19, a day after the country’s death toll passed the 1,000-mark.
On Monday, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize revealed that 1,080 people had lost their lives to the virus in South Africa. A total of 50,879 had been infected, with more than half of them recovering.
In a statement, Ramaphosa said more than 400,000 people have died from the virus globally, “making this one of the most devastating pandemics in the last century.”
‘Strength, courage and hope’
He added, “Each one of these deaths is a tragedy. Each one represents a unique life: a parent, a child, a sibling or a friend. Each one leaves behind a family and a community in mourning.
“I would like to offer my condolences to all South Africans who have lost someone they love, and wish them strength, courage and hope in the days ahead.”
The President reminded South Africans to protect themselves and others by observing health protocols such as sanitising their hands, wearing face masks and social distancing.
“While most of those infected with the virus will have only mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all, they can still spread the disease to others who may suffer far more,” he said.
‘It will get worse before it gets better’
South Africa went into lockdown in March to prepare hospital and quarantine facilities for an expected increase in infections. The lockdown has been progressively downgraded from level 5 to the current level 3.
Ramaphosa lauded South Africans for their “patience and solidarity” during this period, adding that the government will “continue to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard the lives of our citizens.”
He said, “Indeed, this is the moment that we have prepared for. We have been advised by experts that the epidemic will become worse before it gets better.
“While our country has had sufficient capacity to cope with the rate of infection so far, we continue to monitor the situation closely. If necessary, we will impose a higher alert level in specific parts of the country to prevent a rapid increase in cases.”
The country has seen a steep increase in the number of infections, with more than half of all cases being recorded over the past two weeks, especially in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
“It is therefore crucial that all South Africans adhere to the restrictions that remain in place and continue to take basic precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. These precautions remain our best defence against the coronavirus and are necessary to save lives,” Ramaphosa urged members of the public.