South Africa entered lockdown alert level three on Monday amid a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths.
The country has the highest confirmed positive cases in Africa so far at 32,683 as of Monday midday. It has also recorded 40 more deaths bringing the toll to 683. Following the reopening of various sectors of the economy, millions of people in South Africa went back to work.
There were long queues at taxi ranks in the morning as well as a high turnout at liquor stores following the lifting of the ban on alcohol sales.
The reopening of schools that had been scheduled for Monday was postponed to June 8. However, only Grade 7 and 12 learners will report for classes.
“The scientists are the ones who continue to lead our effort in all of this. They had advised us that we needed to impose a lockdown, which we did,” President Cyril Ramaphosa told the South African National Editors’ Forum.
“They said it will help flatten the curve of the infections, and with that we will have sufficient time to prepare ourselves, to prepare our healthcare system, to prepare our tools to be able to deal with the spike that is to follow…they also said the lockdown has served its purpose.”
He said experts had also advised that the country could now go into level 1 lockdown, but the government decided on a more gradual easing of the lockdown. He added that the World Health Organization had advised countries to implement a gradual easing of restrictions when infection cases reduce .
President Ramaphosa said that should the coronavirus pandemic worsen, the country could revert to more stringent lockdown levels.