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LIVE BLOG: 600,000 people to receive unemployment grant soon - Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday engaged members of the South African National Editors forum as the industry feels crunch of COVID-19.

Ramaphosa concludes his address. 

What happens after the six months? Government will look into it. Ramaphosa says.

Ramaphosa says the COVID-19 special relief grants will be paid out for six months as was first announced. 

Ramaphosa ays more people around the world need to be supporting the World Health Organization. 

Ramaphosa says he is happy with the way the World Health Organization has been handling the pandemic.

Ramaphosa says that the delay in the payment of the R350 unemployment grants was met with technical glitches, which resulted in many applicants still being not paid. 

Ramaphosa says the Social Development Department has assured him that it was currently processing almost 600,000 people in the next few days. 

He says he is working on enhancing implementation of decisions made within the state. 

Ramaphosa: One of the challenges I have been facing is the issue of the state's capacity. 

Ramaphosa says despite religious institutions being allowed to resume as of 1 June, he says some churches have said they would not be able to meet the compliance requirements and have some have decided to look at reopening later in the year. 

Ramaphosa says they have welcomed this.  

Ramaphosa says churches have been very compliant with lockdown regulations. 

Ramaphosa says South Africa will gradually release of lockdown restrictions to level one as advised by scientists and the World Health Organization. 

He says this will also help the government further improve where it is lacking, such as with testing. 

Ramaphosa says when Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced ban on sale of cigarette, it was a decision government had reached and not just her. 

Asked who had initially advised the NCC on the lifting of the ban on cigarettes and sale of tobacco before the decision was changed, Ramaphosa says they relied on a variety of advice.

"There are a number of doctors and experts who have advised us on the dangers of smoking cigarettes."

Ramaphosa said they then looked at a point of when government could ease restriction on the sale of cigarette.

He said the change on the lift on the sale came after a "flurry" of many South Africans objecting to the sale of cigarettes. 

Ramaphosa is now taking questions from the media.

Ramaphosa has concluded his address with SANEF. 

Ramaphosa says he is confident SA will succeed in defying COVID-19 because SA has the tools to flatten the rate of infections. 

Ramaphosa: We are now entering the most challenging phase of COVID-19.

Ramaphosa: COVID-19 moving forward, we can craft a number of possibilities to ensure that our recovery outside of COVID-19 is a bit better. 

The president says at the core of the financial interventions by government were poor households and people who had lost their income due to the pandemic

He says the reopening of the economy under level 3 was to ensure that the "immediate health crisis" would not result in a "permanent economic crisis".

Ramaphosa said keeping hotspots at a higher alert level would prove impractical and work against efforts to open up the econom

Suppliers in China will make available up to 30 million test kitsm,  10,000 ventilators and 80 million masks per month for Africa. These will be accessed from a central platform which will be launched in the new week. South African suppliers making masks and ventilators will be included on the platform. 

South Africa is working with other countries to ensure South Africa gets what it needs in the fight against the virus. Ramaphosa says he appointed an envoy of the continent to find medical supplies.

Contact tracing remained an area of weakness with an average two contacts identified per confirmed COVID-19 case. President Ramaphosa says this can improve.

President Ramaphosa says South Africa needs to be more targeted in testing due to the severe global shortage of test kits. 

He says with people returning to work and school, screening effort would have to be expanded. He says with a large proportion of asymptomatic cases screening needs to be complimented with a range of other preventative measures.

President Ramaphosa says there are over 13 million people in the country who have been screened, and of those 188,00 had been refered to testing. He says 710,000 South Africans who had been referred through the community screening process - he said this was a phenomenal achievement when compared to other countries on the continent. 

He said he is unhappy to hear that a journalist has had to flee the country, adding that he would direct the minister of police (Bheki Cele) to ensure Paul Nthoba's safe return to the country. 

President Ramaphosa says he was saddened by news of Lungile Tom's death. He paid his condolences, calling it a sad moment

The President acknowledges the challenges media organisations are faced with, inviting Sanef to engage governement to see how they can assist without intefering with the media. He says, "Rather than stay out there and see media houses collapsing, let's have a discussion and see what it is that can be done."

Ramaphosa says the media has kept South Africans informed, stimulated debate and helped hold those in office to account. He says they welcome criticism, as  media freedom is protected by the Constitution. 

Ramaphosa says he is deloghted to hear that the trust between media and the public is being regenerated. This is in response to Mahlase's earlier statement on the increased audience ratings in this period.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured the media that he is open to engaging the media. Adding that today's engagement happens on the eve of the easing of the lockdown to level 3, which is a significant shift. He says this is a useful opportunity to reflect, look at the road ahead and thank the media for its contributions to the fight against the virus.

Mahlase asked that the case of Paul Nthoba, a South African journalist who fled to Lesotho after experiencing intimidation by the police while covering COVID-19 stories in Ficksburg.  

Lungile Tom is a Tv journalist who died from the coronavirus. Sanef's chairperson says there are more journalists who have contrcated the virus in the line of duty. 

Mahlase says government can do more to improve the information given to media to enable them to enrich the quality of content they produce for the public.

The Sanef chairperson says journalists have gone out to make sure there is coverage of the developments around the coronavirus, but they do so having to face their own challenges with some media houses asking reporters to take up to 40% pay cut.

Mahlase says the current media situation is grim, with some of the country's oldest publications having to stop print.

Sanef's Chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase says the SA media industry is in crisis since the lockdown was announced due to loss of advertising revenue. 

 President Cyril Ramaphosa is on Sunday in discussion with members of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef), who represent media in the country. 

Welcome to the EWN blog, where you get the latest updates and briefings on developments around government's response to the coronavirus