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Ramaphosa: 3 COVID-19 deaths recorded in SA, with 1,326 cases

In his address to the nation on Monday night, the president said the decision to place the country under lockdown was a difficult but necessary one to fight the spread of the virus.

A screengrab of President Cyril Ramaphosa on 30 March 2020.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa said as of Monday, the number of COVID-19 cases in South Africa were at 1,326 while the virus had claimed three lives so far.

In his address to the nation on Monday night, the president said the decision to place the country under lockdown was a difficult but necessary one to fight the spread of the virus.

"As a nation, we were deeply saddened to learn that, in the last few days, three South Africans have died from the disease. We convey our sympathies and condolences to their families and friends and to their communities."

He said the public mostly responded positively to the lockdown: "I would like to thank the people of South Africa for acting in a disciplined manner through this very difficult period. We are, however, concerned about those who have not yet appreciated the seriousness of this disease."

Ramaphosa warned those who didn't obey the rules of the lockdown that they were not only putting their own lives at risk, but the lives of others as well.

"It infects the rich and the poor, the young and the old, black and white, those who live in the cities and those in the villages. Let us not make the mistake of thinking this is somebody else’s problem.

He once again took the opportunity to remind the public about who is allowed to leave their homes and under what circumstance.

"The only people who can go to work are health workers, security and emergency personnel, those who work to keep our people supplied with food, medicine and basic goods and other providers of essential services as defined in the regulations. Leave your home only if you need to get food and essential provisions, collect a social grant, buy medicine or get urgent medical care."

WATCH: Ramaphosa gives COVID-19 lockdown update

He said while Moody’s had downgraded the country to junk status, that would not affect efforts to beat the coronavirus.

“We are working together with our social partners to identify further measures we can take to limit the damage on our economy, and to ensure that as we emerge from this pandemic we set our economy on a clear path of growth.”

NEW PHASE

Ramaphosa said 10,000 field workers would be deployed to screen, test and trace coronavirus patients at their homes countrywide.

“Around 10,000 field workers will be visiting homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents for COVID-19 symptoms. People with symptoms will be referred to local clinics or mobile clinics for testing. People who are infected with coronavirus, but who have no or moderate symptoms will remain in isolation at home or at a facility provided by government and those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals.”

He said this plan was intense and unprecedented.

“Using mobile technology, an extensive tracing system will be rapidly deployed to trace those who have been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases and to monitor the geographical location of new cases in real time.”

The president also thanked the Motsepe family and Naspers who have donated R1 billion and R1.5 billion respectively and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma for his donation of medical supplies.

“We are now entering a new phase in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In the coming days, government will be rolling out a screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme on a huge scale.”