South Africa to go into nationwide lockdown from Thursday

March 23, 2020
Train commuters hold on to the side of an overcrowded passenger train in Soweto, South Africa, Monday, March 16, 2020. South Africa will revoke nearly 10,000 visas issued this year to people from China and Iran, and visas will now be required for other high-risk countries that had been visa-free, including Italy and the United States. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems.(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) : South Africa, Africa’s most industrialised economy and a nation of 57 million people, will to go into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days starting Thursday to try to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, the president said Monday.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the measures in response to the increase of COVID-19 cases to 402.

South Africa will be the third country in Africa to close down all but essential economic activity, after Rwanda and Tunisia.

South Africa’s coronavirus cases jumped by 47% on Monday from the day before with 128 new cases, increasing worries of exponential growth and making it the country with the most cases in Africa, taking over from Egypt.

More than half of South Africa’s total cases are in Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, the country’s largest city with 5.7 million people, and the capital, Pretoria, with 2.4 million, according to figures released by the Health Ministry.

South Africa has not registered a known death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus. Officials have said the majority of people infected were travellers from Europe and other countries, although the number of cases that are locally transmitted is rising.

South Africa’s crowded working class residential areas and packed commuter trains and minivan taxis are expected to contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

Ramaphosa said the lockdown would be enforced by police and the military starting at midnight Thursday.

Military convoys have already deployed across Johannesburg.

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