South Africa will continue to "take whatever action is necessary" to safeguard the lives of its citizens amid the Covid-19 scourge, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.
Monday, June 8, "marked a solemn milestone in our country's fight against the coronavirus, as the number of our fellow citizens who have lost their lives to this disease passed the 1,000 mark reaching 1,080," Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa offered his condolences to all South Africans who have lost someone they love, and wished them strength, courage and hope in the days ahead.
The South African government had taken a "life-above-all" policy in coping with the pandemic, enforcing a hard lockdown to curb the virus spread.
But this policy has been criticised for "doing more harm than good" as economic activities were brought to a near standstill.
After reducing the lockdown from level five to level four on May 1, the government further eased the restrictions to level three on June 1, allowing most businesses to reopen and 8 million people to return to work.
In response to criticism against the lockdown, Ramaphosa said South Africa has used the time during the lockdown to build the capacity of the health system, adding thousands of hospital and quarantine beds, securing adequate medical supplies and personal protective equipment, and putting training and protocols in place at all of healthcare facilities to prepare for an increase in infections.
These measures will prove invaluable as the number of cases continues to increase, said Ramaphosa.
"We should take this moment to remind ourselves that the coronavirus presents a real danger to all of us. While it may be an invisible enemy, it is nevertheless deadly," he said.
"We should take this moment to remind ourselves that the coronavirus presents a real danger to all of us," said Ramaphosa.
If necessary, the government will impose a higher alert level in specific parts of the country to prevent a rapid increase in cases, he said.
"It is therefore crucial that all South Africans adhere to the restrictions that remain in place and continue to take basic precautions to prevent the spread of the virus," Ramaphosa said.