At midnight the country will go into a 21 day lockdown period as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus which stood at 709 confirmed cases yesterday.
On Monday, Mr Ramaphosa announced plans for the nation-wide lockdown from midnight, Thursday March 26 until Thursday April 16, which will see all shops and businesses closed, except for pharmacies,
laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers will remain open, as will companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies.
Health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency services personnel, those in security services – such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other people necessary for the response to the pandemic are also exempted from the lockdown.
Mr Ramaphosa said this step was needed fundamentally disrupt the chain of transmission across society.
As of Wednesday March 25, the number of confirmed cases spiked to 709, a 28% increase from Tuesday March 24 which stood at 554 confirmed cases.
On Monday, the University of Cape Town (UCT) confirmed its fourth Covid-19 case at the institution. The latest case was that of a postgraduate student.
UCT confirmed its first case on Sunday 15 March and the second case on Thursday 19 March.
The first case was a UCT-employed staff member. The second was a UCT-based visiting researcher associated with a department at UCT. The third case confirmed on Saturday March 21, was a UCT-employed project manager who worked in the same department as the second case.
UCT has since taken several steps to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infections including earlier closure of the campus. Spokesperson Elijah Moholola said they arranged extra buses for students who had requested travel assistance, with the looming lockdown.
“Following the announcement by Mr Ramaphosa in order to contain and flatten the curve, UCT has to close all residences and require every student to return home,” he said.
Mr Moholola said as a result of the lockdown no staff member would be allowed in any UCT building and all academic activities including research, would cease.
UCT CEO Dr Reno Morar called for confidentiality in relation to any reported case and said it was
important when dealing with the medical conditions of staff and students.
“Breaking that confidentiality is not acceptable for healthcare professionals (which includes health scientists) as it is against their ethical codes.” he said.
Meanwhile, two UCT alumni Tamir Shklaz and Wisani Shilumani have built a a centralised online platform, named Coronapp, for information about the disease in an effort to provide South Africans with reliable and accurate information about the coronavirus.;
Mr Shklaz recently graduated from UCT with a degree in electrical and computer engineering and has been working full-time on his start-up, Quillo, which he began working on during his third year at UCT. Mr Shilumani graduated from UCT in 2017 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He started developing apps and websites as a side passion while he was studying and is currently working full-time as a sofware developer.
The target audience for the app is all South African seeking reliable and up-to-date information about the Covid-19 outbreak.
“We saw a great deal of misinformation about the outbreak and the nature of the virus circulating on social media. The fake news around the outbreak not only created a great deal of uncertainty but was incredibly dangerous; there were trends such as gargling bleach or supposed home remedies that could cure the virus,” said Mr Shklaz .
It took them one weekend to build the app. They worked around the clock from morning until late at night throughout the weekend. However, development is an ongoing process of adding features that are most helpful to people using it. The Twitter section only shows tweets from the National Department of Health. This ensures only accurate information is displayed in real-time as the government releases more reports.
The following measures would be implemented with immediate effect as part of the lockdown:
(BLOB) South African citizens and residents arriving from high-risk countries will automatically be placed under quarantine for 14 days.
(BLOB) Non-South Africans arriving on flights from high-risk countries we prohibited a week ago will be turned back.
(BLOB) International flights to Lanseria Airport will be temporarily suspended.
(BLOB) International travellers who arrived in South Africa after 9 March 2020 from high-risk countries will be confined to their hotels until they have completed a 14-day period of quarantine.
A Solidarity Fund has been set up for businesses, organisations and individuals, and members of the international community contribute to. The fund will focus efforts to combat the spread of the virus, help to track the spread, care for those who are ill and support those whose lives are disrupted. For more information on this, visit: www.solidarityfund.co.za.
The City’s mayor, Dan Plato, has welcomed the announcement of the lockdown. He said these were unprecedented times but the City of Cape Town is in full support of the 21-day lockdown announced by Mr Ramaphosa in order to curb the spread of the Covid-19.