The coronavirus is officially a national disaster, but what does this mean?

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national disaster on Sunday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national disaster on Sunday.
Image: Supplied

The coronavirus in SA is officially a national disaster.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this during an address to the nation on Sunday night.

“We have now declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act. This will enable us to have an integrated and co-ordinated disaster management mechanism that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak of this virus,” the president said.

Government will now also be able to set up emergency, rapid and effective response systems to mitigate the severity of its impact, he said.

The head of government’s national disaster management centre. Mmaphaka Tau, formally gazetted this on Sunday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on March 15 2020. This comes after the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus reached 61.

She called on organs of state to strengthen and support existing structures and enable contingency plans. They have all been instructed to comply with the state of disaster.

In terms of the law, once a national disaster is declared, government can regulate the movement of people and goods from and within the disaster area.

Limiting the sale of alcohol is also included under this law.

Government can also control the dissemination of information regarding the coronavirus.

Other measures call for the evacuation of people to temporary facilities, national government releasing resources, including vehicles and facilities, to assist and regulate traffic.

A national disaster lasts three months.

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