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Essential services workers plead with the public to obey lockdown rules

There are now 709 confirmed cases in South Africa, but some people have already recovered.

FILE: SAPS members on parade at the Cape Town train station during a visit by Police Minister Bheki Cele on 6 May 2019. Picture: Lauren Isaacs/EWN

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Nurses, doctors, police officers and paramedics are calling on South Africans to obey the lockdown restrictions to avoid placing an unnecessary burden on essential services.

There are now 709 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Africa, but some people have already recovered.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu), which represents medical staff, has called on South Africans to follow the rules to make sure hospitals were not overburdened during this uncertain time.

Spokesperson Khaya Xaba said: “We appeal to everyone to take this issue seriously and also assist where possible.
We need to support them, encourage them and offer them solidarity.”

With just two days left before the lockdown starts, medical staff are still appealing to government to clarify exactly who is required to work during the 21 days.

COMPLY OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES

South African Police Service officers and the army will also be visible in residential areas from Friday, The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) is calling for cooperation from the public.

Spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said: “If there is anything that should unite us post 1994 is that we need to defeat this. We have seen what this has done to other countries.”

South Africans will be allowed minimal movement only for essential services like buying food and medicine.

Those who fail to comply could face a fine or imprisonment.

Mamabolo said South Africans must help government stop the spread of the virus.

“It’s about time South Africans learn that we need to definitely ensure that we take this into our own hands as well. People need to play a bigger role because it cannot be a government responsibility alone. This will need everybody to participate.”

'WE ARE NOT ALONE'

But we are not alone. Many countries are taking drastic action.

Italy, which has the highest COVID-19 death toll at over 6,800 and almost 70,000 cases has been on lockdown for about two weeks.

In India, hundreds of millions are living under a total lockdown, which came into effect on Tuesday after the country saw a spike in COVID-19 infections.

The UK, which has recorded more than 8,000 cases and 422 deaths is among the latest to resort to the aggressive measure.

The government's warned people who are found gathering in groups of more than two outdoors will be fined.

France, the third-worst affected European country went into lockdown on 17 March.

Rwanda became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to impose a two-week lockdown this past Saturday.

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.