On easing restrictions, Ramaphosa said he would like to see most of the country on level 3 by the end of May.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says consultations will get under way as the government prepares to ease level 4 lockdown restrictions to level 3 from the end of May.
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Wednesday night and began his speech by paying tribute to the 219 people who have died due to complications related to the coronavirus.
The country has recorded over 12 000 cases of the virus and over 4 000 recoveries as of Wednesday, May 13. Close to 380 000 tests have been conducted and over 9 million people have been screened across the country.
Ramaphosa acknowledged that the national lockdown had negative effects on the economy, but also said that it bought the country time to prepare health care facilities. The country now has over 25 000 quarantine beds, in addition to the usual numbers, to deal with a possible flood in cases.
The president reiterated that if the national lockdown had never been implemented, the scientific projections showed that the country could have seen 80 000 cases by now, with deaths doubling.
In comparison to countries like the UK and the USA, the country’s rise in cases has been steady, he said. There had been 181 confirmed cases for every 1 million people.
On easing restrictions, Ramaphosa said he would like to see most of the country on level 3 by the end of May. He said that some parts of the country would have to be restricted to avoid the spillover of cases.
Ramaphosa said over the next few weeks there will be consultation on the areas that will remain under heavy restriction because of the continued rise in cases.
The president stressed that the aim was to ease restrictions, but at a careful pace to ensure that the spread of the virus remained under control. He warned that although there had been strides over the last seven weeks, cases were expected to rise as the easing of restrictions continued.
He said it was now up to South Africans to help fight the virus by implementing measures of hygiene and social distancing. The virus would be with us for a long time, Ramaphosa warned.
The president also admitted that some regulations implemented during the lockdown had appeared unclear.