JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on the ongoing measures to manage the spread of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
The president said he hoped that most of the country will move to a Level 3 alert by the end of May, a further easing of restrictions aimed to prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Ramaphosa opened his address by sharing condolences for the 219 people who have died of COVID-19 related complications.
"Without the lockdown, the number of coronavirus infections would have soared uncontrollably, our health facilities would have been overwhelmed and many thousands more South Africans would have died," he said.
"Evidence shows us that imposing a nationwide lockdown provided our country with valuable time to prepare our health system and helped to slow the rate of COVID-19 transmission. This vital advantage must now be sustained," the president said.
Ramaphosa stated temporary economic measures will be in place for six months.
"We will spare no effort to ensure our most vulnerable citizens are supported and protected during this difficult time," he said.
The president announced a process of consultation with provinces to lift Level 4 restrictions to Level 3 by the end of May for the majority of the country.
Ramaphosa emphasised that restrictions will be eased selectively depending on the province's rate of infection and the state of readiness and the capacity of its health facilities to cope with treating infected people.
He said, "our goal is to steadily increase economic activity while putting measures in place to reduce the transmission of the virus and provide adequate care for those who become infected and need treatment."
The president said the government’s differentiated approach will allow economic activity to resume while protecting public health.
"As restrictions are eased, we will need to observe social distancing even more carefully, wear face masks whenever we leave home, wash hands regularly with soap and water or sanitiser, and avoid contact with other people."
Ramaphosa acknowledged the failures of the national government in their response to the unprecedented global pandemic and stated the government's commitment to handling the crisis as best as possible.
"This evening, I want to reaffirm my commitment and the commitment of the government I lead to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard the life, the dignity and the interests of the South African people," Ramaphosa said.
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