We need to follow the example of communities that have set up “coronavirus forums” at award level to get residents involved in fighting this disease.
As government, we are deploying ministers and deputy ministers to every district in the country to ensure that the local response receives the support that it needs. They will also be initiating gender-based violence prevention programmes at district level.
A vital part of our strategy to contain the spread of the virus is to identify those people whoa re infected, to identify those people they have been in close contact with, and ensure that they immediately isolate themselves from others.
We know there are some people who are reluctant to isolate themselves – either at home or in government facilities – but it is essential that we do so if we are to break the chain of transmission. Social workers need to work with them to help them secure their homes when they are quarantined.
We are deploying digital technologies to strengthen the identification, tracing and isolation of contacts, and to provide support to those who test positive.
In several provinces, those who take a coronavirus test can now receive their result via WhatsApp and provide details of their contacts through this platform.
By responding to messages from the Department of Health and providing this information, you can help to stop the virus from spreading further. By providing a correct cellphone number and personal details when you test for the coronavirus, you can make the task of our health care workers easier.
If you have been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for the coronavirus, you must self-quarantine at home or in a place of quarantine. Similarly, you need to remain at home or in a place of quarantine while you are waiting for a test result to ensure that you do not transmit the virus without knowing it.
If you test positive for coronavirus and have diabetes or hypertension and you are short of breath, seek care at a hospital immediately.
This is the practical action we can and should take to protect those around us. It is precisely this consideration and care towards others that will save lives.
In the light of the increased rate of infection, the National Coronavirus Command Council and cabinet have considered returning all or parts of the country to a higher alert level, either to level 4 or level 5. The advice we have received is that taking this step now would not necessarily achieve a significant reduction in the rate of transmission and would come at an extraordinary economic cost, putting more livelihoods at risk and potentially causing long-lasting social harm.
As we now approach the peak of infections, we need to take extra precautions and tighten existing measures to slow down the rate of transmission.
On the recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council, cabinet has therefore decided that the country will remain at alert level 3 at this time, but that we should however strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations and take certain additional measures.
In order to reduce the rate of transmission, we had earlier said that the wearing of cloth masks will be mandatory. While many South Africans are wearing masks, there are however some among us who are not wearing masks when in public.
It is therefore important that we should enforce the wearing of masks. Regulations on the wearing of masks will be strengthened. Employers, shop owners and managers, public transport operators, and managers and owners of any other public building are now legally obliged to ensure that anyone entering their premises or vehicle must be wearing a mask.
All workplaces and all institutions need to ensure that there is a designated coronavirus official responsible for making sure that all regulations and all precautions are strictly adhered to.
Taxis undertaking local trips will now be permitted to increase their capacity to 100%, while long distance taxis will not be allowed to exceed 70% occupancy, on condition that new risk mitigation protocols related to masks, vehicle sanitising and open windows are followed.
As we head towards the peak of infections, it is vital that we do not burden our clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related injuries that could have been avoided. This is a fight to save every life, and we need to save every bed. We have therefore decided that in order to conserve hospital capacity, the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol will be suspended with immediate effect.
There is now clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure being put on hospitals, including trauma and ICU units, due to motor vehicle accidents, violence and related trauma.
Most of these and other trauma injuries occur at night. Therefore, as an additional measures to reduce the pressure on hospitals, a curfew will be put in place between the hours of 9pm and 4am.
Apart from people who need to travel to and from work or who need to seek urgent medical or other assistance during this time, everyone will be required to remain at home. The curfew will take effect from tomorrow, Monday, 13 July 2020 at 9pm.
We are taking these measures fully aware that they impose unwelcome restrictions on people’s lives. They are, however, necessary to see us through the peak of the disease.
At the same time, we have decided to ease restrictions on activities that pose a lower risk of infection and are important for economic or educational purposes.
As part of resuming economic activity, all auctions will be permitted subject to protocols similar to those that currently apply to agricultural auctions.
Parks will be open for exercise, but not for any form of gathering.
After careful consideration of expert advice, there are still some activities that present too much of a risk to permit at this stage. For this reason, family visits and other social activities will unfortunately not be allowed for now. I know that this places a great burden on families and individuals and can cause great emotional strain, especially for those with elderly parents. It goes against our very nature as social beings, but it is a hardship that we must endure for that much longer to protect those we love and care for from this disease.
To ensure that we have the means to continue to respond effectively to this severe health emergency, cabinet has approved the extension of the national state of disaster to the August 15 2020.