South Africa records 1,280 coronavirus cases, struggles with lockdown


South Africa records 1,280 coronavirus cases, struggles with lockdown

In Summary

  • The 21-day lockdown in South Africa restricts people to their homes for most activities including exercise, only permitting them to go out to buy food or for health emergencies.
  • Some staff of supermarkets that remained open hitched a ride to work in police cars.
  • But in Alexandra and other townships, where cramped conditions make social distancing almost impossible, large crowds gathered.

The South African government has reported that as of Sunday, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases was 1,280.

This is an increase of 93 from the previously reported cases.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize also announced the second death of a patient who had tested positive for coronavirus.

“The 74 year old male had been in ICU and ventilation in a private hospital in Ladysmith.

“He had travelled to Kruger National Park with his family and came back with flu like symptoms. He was confirmed to be COVID-19 positive on the 27th March 2020,” he said in a statement.

Dr. Mkhize said the deceased, who had an underlying skin cancer condition (melanoma), exhibited symptoms such as respiratory distress; shortness of breath; cardiac failure; decreased saturation and his temperature was above 38 degrees.

Family members, 14 health workers; including 3 specialist doctors who were in contact with him are now in quarantine and being monitored.

Meanwhile, bustling streets and long queues at supermarkets highlighted the struggle in South Africa to adapt to a new lockdown on Friday.

In Alexandra near Johannesburg’s financial district, a group of men drank openly in the street until police intervened and ordered the supermarkets to close.

“How can you stay home without food? The reason we are here is because we are hungry. We are here to get groceries so we can be able to stay indoors, you can’t stay indoors without food,” Alexandra resident Linda Songelwa told Reuters.

The 21-day lockdown in South Africa restricts people to their homes for most activities including exercise, only permitting them to go out to buy food or for health emergencies.

Some staff of supermarkets that remained open hitched a ride to work in police cars.

But in Alexandra and other townships, where cramped conditions make social distancing almost impossible, large crowds gathered.

The townships, where people rely on an ailing public health system, offer a rich breeding ground for the coronavirus.

Many residents are too poor to weather the associated economic fallout and lack the funds to stock up on adequate food.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said there had been “a few issues” with the lockdown, including in Alexandra and where people had not observed social distancing in shop queues.

“Sometimes people that join those queues are not even there to make the shopping, they are there for outing because they don’t have other activities… So we are sifting all those things, and we are going to be very tough with those people.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa sees off Coronavirus COVID-19 quarantined citizens from The Ranch Resort
President Cyril Ramaphosa sees off Coronavirus COVID-19 quarantined citizens from The Ranch Resort

Photos from SA Government and additional reporting from Reuters

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