Behave - and we won't have to step up lockdown levels: Ramaphosa

Matthew Savides Night news editor
President Cyril Rampahosa: Wearing a mask every time we leave home is far, far better than a second wave.'' FIle photo.
President Cyril Rampahosa: Wearing a mask every time we leave home is far, far better than a second wave.'' FIle photo.
Image: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS

President Cyril Rampahosa said on Wednesday that as long as all South Africans did their part, moving to stricter lockdown levels would not be necessary.

Addressing SA on Wednesday night, Ramaphosa said Covid-19 cases had remained stable at fewer than 2,000 new cases since the move to level 1 restrictions in late September.

While he warned that there was room for a resurgence — particularly in the Eastern Cape, where cases were spiking — providing South Africans followed health protocols a move to stricter lockdown levels was unnecessary.

“From the progress we have made, from the lessons we have learnt, we now know that under the current alert level 1 we have all the tools we need to prevent a resurgence. For as long as we observe all the necessary health protocols and remaining restrictions — as individuals, as businesses, as institutions — there should be no need to return to a higher alert level,” he said.

Ramaphosa said that, at the time of his address, there were more than 742,000 confirmed cases across SA and more than 20,000 Covid-19 related fatalities.

“To ensure that we can keep all the necessary prevention measures in place, we are, as required by the Disaster Management Act, extending the national state of disaster by another month, to December 15, 2020,” he said.

Ramaphosa urged the country to unite to prevent the virus spreading, and to follow health guidelines including wearing masks, sanitising and physical distancing.

“A cloth mask, worn over the nose and mouth, is still one of our best defences. I know this can sometimes be a hassle. Masks can be hot and uncomfortable. They make it difficult to recognise other people or to hear clearly what they’re saying.

“But cloth masks are cheap, they can now be found almost anywhere, and the inconvenience of wearing one is far, far better than becoming infected or infecting others. Wearing a mask every time we leave home is far, far better than a second wave. It is also far better than a return to lockdown and better than having to shut down the economy,” he said.

He encouraged people to rather gather outdoors, particularly in the warm summer months.

“Of course with the festive season approaching it is understandable that we will want to be with family and friends. It has been a stressful and traumatic year. We want to socialise and connect with each other. But this doesn’t mean we should let our guards down.

“We must remember that every additional person we come into contact with increases the chances of transmission. We should avoid large gatherings. We should rather meet in small groups. If we must go out, we should limit contact with others.

“As a nation, let us continue to do what we know must be done to keep ourselves and others safe. Let us continue to demonstrate that we are a people of resilience and courage. Let us show that we care for one another in sorrow, sickness and in death.

“It is our individual actions over the next few weeks and months that will decide the fortunes of our nation. The actions we must take are straightforward, but they are not insignificant. They can and do save lives. Let us continue to work together like the great South African family that we are to restore, to recover and to rebuild,” he said.


FULL ADDRESS | Ramaphosa addresses SA on Covid-19 developments

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President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on on Wednesday and emphasised the interventions that must continue if South Africa is to contain the spread of Covid-19. He extended the national state of disaster and warned South Africans to avoid large gatherings over the festive season. A five day period of mourning was also announced for those who died from Covid-19.