JOHANNESBURG – South Africa now has over 900 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday.
On Wednesday the total was 709 confirmed cases.
The country will go into a national lockdown at midnight on Thursday. On Monday, Ramaphosa announced the government’s latest regulations to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus.
It is expected that the Health Minister Zweli Mkhize will outline more details about the new confirmed cases later on Thursday.
Ramaphosa was speaking after a virtual meeting with G20 partners on Thursday.
Giving feedback to the media, he said at the meeting, African leaders had agreed to a united approach to tackle the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
He said African leaders had agreed to heighten communication amongst each other to share ideas about how each country was dealing with the Covid-19 virus.
He said the various ministers of health on the continent would form regional task forces for the southern, east, north, west, and central African regions.
Ramaphosa said $17m dollars was raised for the Africa Coronavirus Fund, which would assist countries in dire need on the continent.
“We now have a clear position to address the fund. All countries are united, we have got to do everything we can to save lives, to also act in solidarity with countries badly affected and also to support economies,” he said.
He said Africa had called upon the G20 to support a stimulus package for Africa that would see the IMF and the World Bank stop interest payments to existing loans, and allow the countries to focus on battling the virus.
Meanwhile, all businesses will close and only essential services, such as healthcare, grocery stores and petrol stations, will remain open during the 21 day lockdown. Citizens will be expected to isolate at home and will only be permitted to leave their houses to access essential services.
The SA National Defence Force will be deployed to assist SAPS officials to ensure compliance.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said all South Africans were expected to follow lockdown rules and heavy fines and the possibility of jail time were on the cards if people did not comply.
On Thursday many South Africans took to visit their local malls to stock up on various goods as hours loomed before the national lockdown.
The presidency said on Thursday that Ramaphosa had tested negative for the Coronavirus. He had undergone testing for the Covid-19 virus following advice from his doctor.
The presidency said it was decided to make Ramaphosa’s results public to assure the public that he was fit and continuing with his duties.
“The President submitted for testing as a precautionary measure upon the advice of his physicians on Tuesday 24th March 2020 and received his results last night,” the presidency said.