In an address to the nation on Wednesday, November 11, President Cyril Ramaphosa provided an update on the country's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The President announced that the state of disaster in effect to deal with the pandemic will be extended until December 15 and that five days of mourning will be observed between November 25 to 29. No additional lockdown restrictions were announced and the trading hours for the sale of alcohol have been normalized, having previously been restricted on weekends to ease the burden on hospital staff. Ramaphosa also said that a "resurgence plan" will focus on contact tracing, community mobilization, and health system readiness and called on people to continue to wear masks, stick to social distancing guidelines, and avoid gatherings. Finally, it was announced that South Africa would be scrapping its list of high-risk travel countries, which had been in place since borders were reopened earlier this month. This effectively opens up the country to tourists from all countries, although individuals will still need to present a negative COVID-19 test on arrival. It was not specified when the new travel measures come into force.
As of November 11, there have been 742,394 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 20,011 associated fatalities in South Africa. Further international spread of the virus is to be 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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