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Early, decisive action enabled SA to quickly respond to COVID-19 - Karim

Co-chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, said that during the initial period, the pandemic in South Africa was growing rapidly.

Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (Caprisa), Professor Salim Abdool Karim. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - It's almost exactly a year since South Africa's first COVID-19 infection was confirmed.

A leading voice in the fight against the pandemic, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, said that early and decisive action enabled the country to quickly respond to the coronavirus.

As director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa - Caprisa - Karim on Thursday afternoon reflected on the past year, highlighting key issues relating to the pandemic.

South Africa reported it's first COVID-19 patient on 5 March last year.

WATCH: Reflecting on a year of COVID-19: SA is better geared for the future

Professor Karim said that during the initial period, the pandemic in South Africa was growing rapidly.

"...so rapidly that we were doubling every two days. At that early stage, for the first 21 days of our epidemic, we were competing almost case for case with the UK."

Karim said that a critical move was the declaration of a national state of disaster, ten days after the first case.

"The state of disaster enabled us to control borders, it enabled us to restrict gatherings, to close the schools. It provided us with the tools to try and reduce the spread of this virus at that very early stage."

The co-chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 said that this enabled the country to slow viral transmission at community level.

WATCH: The first patients were treated like "lepers" - Prof Karim reflects on a year of COVID-19 in SA