As of Saturday, August 1, South African authorities have recorded over 500,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The current total now stands at 503,290 cases and 8153 associated fatalities. South Africa has the fifth-largest number of COVID-19 cases in the world behind Russia, India, Brazil, and the US.
On Thursday, July 30, the South African government announced a slight easing of restrictions in a revision of the current Level 3 lockdown measures. Under the revision, the nationwide nightly curfew has been pushed back an hour to between 22:00 and 04:00 (local time). Intra-provincial travel for leisure purposes will also now be permitted, although individuals are still unable to travel to other provinces unless for essential purposes. Hotels and other accommodation facilities have been permitted to reopen, with restrictions on a maximum of two people per room, except for parents who can share with a maximum of two children.
The Level 3 lockdown measures are expected to last until at least August 15. Restrictions unchanged under these measures include the closure of all international borders, domestic flights and inter-provincial travel permitted only for business and other essential purposes, a ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people, and a ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco. Face coverings and social distancing of at least two meters (6 ft) are mandatory in public spaces and workers are still encouraged to work from home where possible.
Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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