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Screening, testing and tracing to be prioritised – Ramaphosa


‘This drive is far-reaching, it is intensive and it is unprecedented in scale’

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night said the country was entering a new phase in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with screening, testing and tracing to be prioritised. He also revealed that 1 326 people had been infected and three people had died. 

The medical management programme will involve ‘around 10 000 field workers visiting homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents for COVID-19 symptoms’, Ramaphosa said.

“People with symptoms will be referred to local clinics or mobile clinics for testing.

“People who are infected with coronavirus, but who have no or moderate symptoms will remain in isolation at home or at a facility provided by government and those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals.”

Ramaphosa said mobile technology will be used and an extensive tracing system will be ‘rapidly deployed to trace those who have been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases and to monitor the geographical location of new cases in real time’.

“This drive is far-reaching, it is intensive and it is unprecedented in scale.”

Ramaphosa denounced violent behaviour against civilians by members of the SA Police Service (SAPS) and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) who are enforcing the national lockdown throughout the country.

This after the spread of the footage of soldiers and police officers beating up civilians since the start of the lockdown on Friday, in which people are urged to remain in their homes until April 16.

 “We have made it clear that the task of our security personnel is to support, to reassure and to comfort our people and to ensure that peace and order is maintained in our country. They know that they must act within the law at all times and that they must not cause harm to any of our people in any way whatsoever,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa lamented that the Covid-19 crisis was visiting the country while its economy was undergoing great strain, with credit ratings agency Moody’s having downgraded SA to junk status on Friday.

“This will significantly increase the cost of borrowing to fund government spending and will have a negative impact on the economy,” he said.

He said the development, which is a blow to SA as it is currently in recession, would however not diminish the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are pushing ahead to implement the necessary health interventions and economic and social measures to contain the spread of the disease and alleviate its effects on our people.  Within the constraints of the current crisis, we remain committed to implementing structural economic reforms to address weak economic growth, constrained public finances and struggling state owned enterprises (SOEs),”he said.

Ramaphosa slammed those who continued to violate the regulations stipulated by the government as part of the national state of disaster, including the instruction that people must stay in their homes.

While hailing the majority of citizens for supporting and complying with the national lockdown, Ramaphosa warned that those who chose to disobey it were endangering the country.

“Let us not make the mistake of thinking this is somebody else’s problem. Every time you violate the regulations the government has issued or try to get around the rules, you are putting yourselves and other sat risk and helping to spread the virus,” he said.

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