Covid-19 can come for anyone so stay indoors, Ramaphosa tells SA

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday night, day four of the national shutdown.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday night, day four of the national shutdown.
Image: GCIS

Don’t dare think that the coronavirus will pass you by, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned on Monday night.

In an 18-minute address to the nation, Ramaphosa was critical of those who weren’t taking the national lockdown seriously by ignoring regulations and trying to find loopholes.

“Some people may think this disease is something that doesn't concern them, and that it will never affect them - that it is something they only read about in newspapers or social media or see reports about on television. But it is very real. And it poses a great danger to every one of us and to our society as well,” he said.

“It infects the rich and the poor, the young and the old, black and white, those who live in the cities and those who live in the rural areas. Let us not make the mistake of thinking that this is somebody else's problem.”

In a widely-shared WhatsApp message - which Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko described to TimesLIVE as “ridiculousness” - it was earlier on Monday claimed that the president would consider extending the lockdown for an additional 90 days. But this was not the case, as he instead encouraged people to stay indoors and follow the rules for the remaining 17 days.

“Every time you violate the regulations the government has issued, or try to get around the rules, you are putting yourselves and others at risk - and helping to spread the virus,” said Ramaphosa.

“It is now four days since our country went into a nationwide lockdown for the first time in the history of our democracy. This is an extreme measure we had to embark upon in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“As government, we are aware that the lockdown has caused great disruption to all our lives, and cost upheaval in our economy. But we all know and agree that this nationwide lockdown is absolutely necessary to save the lives of thousands, even tens of thousands, of people.”

The president also acknowledged that the next few days and weeks will be hard.

“The next 17 days will be difficult. Parents are worried about the safety of their children. Small business owners and informal traders are losing much - or all - of their income. Workers are worried about their jobs and their income. The elderly and the frail need people to care for them,” he said.

“Some of those who live on the streets are without shelter or food. Students are missing their lessons in class, and are worried about the future. All of us are experiencing great hardship and great anxiety at this time. This is to be understood.”

The president said that the country was taking “various actions to support businesses in distress, assist workers whose jobs are threatened and provide funding to small businesses”.

The details were not provided in full.

“We are providing shelter to people who are homeless. We are continuing to deliver water to areas that do not have water, so that our people can maintain high levels of hygiene,” he said.

“We are particularly concerned about the impact of the lockdown on the self-employed and on informal businesses. We are urgently developing additional measures to provide relief to them during this very difficult period.”

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