Authorities in South Africa announced on Thursday, April 22, the partial reopening of the national economy and a phased relaxation of nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown measures from Friday, May 1. President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the lockdown would be lowered from the current level five to a level four as of Friday. Under level four restrictions, international travel will remain suspended, citizens will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential needs, and social distancing orders will need to be respected. However, authorities will determine certain sectors that will be allowed to resume operations.
On Wednesday, April 22, President Ramaphosa announced plans to deploy 73,180 additional troops to assist in efforts to enforce the nationwide lockdown. The additional troops will be deployed until Friday, June 26, to assist existing security personnel who have struggled to keep residents indoors and stop the illegal sale of alcohol. The existing lockdown measures prohibit residents from leaving their homes with the exception of buying food, seeking medical help, or collecting social grants. Additionally, residents are prohibited from participating in outdoor exercise, including jogging and dog walking. Emergency responders, health workers, and security-services staff are exempted from the measures. All businesses have been ordered to close except for supermarkets, pharmacies, laboratories, banks, petrol stations, health-care providers, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
As of April 23, 3953 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country and 75 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over 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 (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
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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