NOTE: This COVID-19 update is a collaboration between the bylined author and SA News.
The murmurs were there but on Thursday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed what we all feared: the coronavirus (COVID-19) nationwide lockdown has been extended.
COVID-19: South Africa’s latest infection and death totals
The president noted that since the commencement of the lockdown, the average daily infection rate has plummeted from around 40% to 4%
This dramatic drop can be attributed to the extreme measures government took in their quick response to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
However, he noted that the true picture of South Africa’s daily infection rate can be found with increased mass testing, something that the health department will accelerate in the next coming days.
As things stand, South Africa has 1 934 confirmed cases, with 18 deaths.
When will the lockdown end?
To ensure that we edge out the dangers of COVID-19, Ramaphosa as chair of the national command council has moved to extend the nationwide lockdown by a further two weeks.
This means that the lockdown will now end at the end of Thursday 30 April. This, of course, is contingent on the government managing the improbable, an achievement that was not even accomplished by China.
Ramaphosa leans on CSIR to fight COVID-19
Ramaphosa has expressed confidence in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) technology and data which will enable the country to fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“As a nation we should be proud that we have an institution like the CSIR which is always trying to be ahead of the curve in terms of bringing solutions for the nation to utilize,” the President said.
He made the remarks on Thursday during his visit to the Department of Health (DoH)’s COVID-19 Information Centre, a data centre set up to monitor and track the spread of the COVID-19.
“The CSIR has stepped up to the plate and they are doing this in the most scientific way. They have information of 45 million South Africans, through the Department of Health’s National Health Insurance programme. As we are managing the Coronavirus through technology and science, we already have a very good platform and a base.
“They are already linking provinces, districts and all the hospitals, all the beds that are available and hotels that can be used for isolation or quarantine centres. All that is available here and will enable us to fight COVID-19,” the President said.
Vodacom connects essential workers with cellphones
Vodacom is also working with government to fight against the virus. The company will provide 20 000 healthcare workers with mobile phones that have an app with data from the CSIR.
“The 20 000 phones will come with 500 minutes and five gigs of data for health workers to get information on COVID-19,” Vodacom Group chief executive officer (CEO) Shameel Joosub said.
Vodacom also has an e-school platform which is available in all the 11 official languages with all the syllabus from Grade R up to Grade 12. This is available for free.
“We have also launched a virtual doctor platform with Discovery, hopefully this can take pressure off the health system,” Joosub said.