by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – THE negative tests for some South Africans that returned from China, and the massive drop of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the epicentre of the disease demonstrates the effectiveness and the necessity of a state of lockdown.
This is according to South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, as the country began the first full week of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to combat the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
He also spoke moments after all 114 South Africans who were evacuated from Wuhan in China two weeks ago tested negative for the virus.
For months, they had been in lockdown, first in Wuhan for some 51 days and then in Polokwane for 14 days.
“The experience of the South Africans in Wuhan demonstrates the effectiveness – and the necessity – of a state of lockdown,” Ramaphosa wrote on Monday.
“It was due to the drastic actions that the Chinese government took to contain the disease in the city of Wuhan, that all of our people were able to return uninfected and healthy.”
Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in the province of Hubei, had more than 50 000 COVID-19 infections that emerged at the end of last year.
After more than two months of stringent lockdown measures were put in place, the province has had fewer than 20 new cases in the past two weeks, Ramaphosa pointed out.
“The containment of the disease in Wuhan City, in Hubei Province and in other places across China required a massive and extraordinary effort,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said other countries that have taken similar measures are having greater success in managing the spread of the disease than countries that have been slower to respond.
As the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide grew to over 700 000 while the number of deaths exceeded 33 000, Ramaphosa insisted South Africa would draw lessons from countries such as China.
“It is now abundantly clear that the most effective way for a society to contain the spread of the disease is for the population to remain at home and physically isolated from each other for at least several weeks,” Ramaphosa said.
He expressed South Africa’s gratitude to China for taking such good care of the country’s local citizens at the same time providing assistance in organising their repatriation.
Ramaphosa said the story of South African returnees from Wuhan should give encouragement and hope in the difficult weeks that lied ahead.
“Their story tells us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that if we stay the course, that if we remain disciplined and respect the lockdown, that if we work together, we will overcome.”
South Africa is the country worst impacted by COVID-19 in the entire African continent with over 1 200 confirmed cases.
– CAJ News