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President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised speech on Wednesday night that the Covid-19 level-4 lockdown will remain in place until the end of May – and even then, it may continue in the big cities into June.

“By the end of May, most of the country should be placed on alert level 3. Those with the highest (rate of infection) will remain on alert level 4,” the president said.

A map shown by the president, titled “prevalence of Covid-19” (see below), suggested Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London could remain subjected to the harsh restrictions imposed under the level-4 lockdown regulations for longer.

However, Ramaphosa hinted that regulations banning unfettered e-commerce and exercise could be relaxed in level 4. These restrictions have proven particularly controversial.

He said the national percentage of cases identified – the “positivity rate” – has remained “rather low and stable” at 181 cases per million people.

“By contrast, countries such as the US, UK, Spain, Italy and Singapore have been between 2 400 and 2 600 per million people… By delaying the spread of the disease, we have strengthened the capacity of our health system,” he added.

“We now have nearly 25 000 additional beds available for quarantine. We have been able to source and produce substantial quantities of personal protective equipment for health workers, vital medical equipment and supplies.”

He cautioned that if South Africa lifts the lockdown too abruptly, it risks a “rapid and unmanageable surge in infections”.

“We will therefore continue to move cautiously… Our goal is to steadily increase economic activity, while putting measures in place to reduce the transmission of the virus…”  — © 2020 NewsCentral Media

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