President Cyril Ramaphosa extended a national lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus by two weeks to April 30 as infections continue to mount.
“There is sufficient evidence to show the lockdown is indeed working,” with the rate of new infections slowing, Ramaphosa said Thursday in a televised address. “Unless we take these difficult measures now, unless we hold this course a little longer, the coronavirus pandemic will engulf, and ultimately consume, our country.”
The rand erased some of its gains after the announcement of the lockdown extension. It traded 0.6% stronger at 18.08 by 8:41 p.m. in Johannesburg, having gained as much as 1.9% earlier in the day.
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 and seek medical care — unless they provide essential services.
South Africa has confirmed 1 934 Covid-19 infections — the most in Africa. The first one was detected on March 5. There were 89 new infections reported on Thursday, with cases confirmed in all nine provinces.
While the restrictions have been a huge setback for the already struggling economy, the government has said it must prioritise the safety of the nation’s citizens.
“The struggle against the coronavirus is far from over,” Ramaphosa said. “If we end the lockdown too soon and too abruptly, we risk a massive and uncontrollable upsurge in the disease.”
© 2020 Bloomberg