President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday, June 24, that the government will begin easing lockdown measures from Monday, June 1. In doing so, the county will enter level three of its five-level lockdown system, with the curfew and restrictions on outdoor exercise being lifted, and alcohol able to be sold for home consumption. The relaxing of measures is intended to help the country's struggling economy. However, Ramaphosa warned that spikes in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hotspots in major cities, such as Johannesburg and Cape Town, could see a return to stricter lockdown measures. More precise details pertaining to the easing of restrictions from this date are expected over the coming days.
As of May 24, authorities have charged around 230,000 people with offenses related to the contravention of lockdown measures, which were introduced on March 26. The number of those charged has almost doubled since the county moved into Level 4 of the lockdown on May 1. Authorities stated that the highest number of arrests mirrored the provincial infection statistics, with the Western Cape recording the highest number of confirmed cases and arrests, followed by the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Gauteng. Those arrested have either been issued with fines or released with a warning, although some were released on bail.
The wearing of face masks in public has been mandatory since May 1. A nationwide curfew remains in place from 20:00 to 05:00 (local time) until June 1, as well as a ban on travel across provincial borders without proof of employment or for other essential purposes. Private vehicles are also limited to three occupants and taxis must operate below 70 percent capacity. Restaurants are only allowed to provide delivery services, although some retailers can reopen, including clothes shops, hardware stores, and wholesalers. The agricultural sector is permitted to resume full operations, and mining has partially resumed. Businesses resuming operations must comply with certain health regulations, such as set workforce capacities, providing hand sanitizers, and ensuring social distance is maintained.
Other restrictions implemented in the lockdown remain in place until at least June 1. International travel is suspended indefinitely, citizens are only allowed to leave their homes for essential needs, and social distancing orders will need to be respected. Gyms, hairdressers, bars, liquor stores, and other businesses remain closed, while group gatherings are still be prohibited.
On 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 June 26 to assist existing security personnel who have struggled to keep residents indoors and stop the illegal sale of alcohol.
As of May 24, 22,583 cases of COVID-19 and 429 associated deaths have been confirmed in the country. 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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