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First COVID-19 Deaths in South Africa; Both Young

Government confirms first two coronavirus-related deaths on day one of SA’s lockdown.

Two women from the Western Cape – a 28-year-old who was admitted to hospital on Thursday and a 48-year-old who has been in ICU, are the first two confirmed deaths of the Covid-19 virus in South Africa.

This was confirmed by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on Friday morning, following a brief statement earlier in the morning by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who also noted that the number of verified Covid-19 cases in the country “have tipped the 1 000-mark.”

Speaking to Moneyweb, Winde says it is very sad news for the province and South Africa. He adds that it highlights why citizens need to take the situation and the lockdown more seriously.

“The fact that these two women were relatively young – one being in her twenties and the other in her forties – should serve as a serious warning to South Africans that it is not only the elderly that are at risk. We all need to take responsibility and stay home during this lockdown,” he says.

“With these two deaths being confirmed on the first day of the lockdown in the country, it brings home the seriousness of what we are facing…. It highlights the importance of the lockdown, which I fully support.

“I call on all South Africans to take responsibility for yourselves and for every single citizen around during this time.”

In his statement, Mkhize said: “This morning, we wake South Africans up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from Covid-19. These two deaths occurred in the Western Cape. One at a private hospital and the other at a public hospital.”

The minister added that government would share more details later today, however he noted that the number of cases had increased (from 927) on Thursday to more than 1 000 by Friday morning.

Meanwhile, Winde tells Moneyweb that besides the ages and the fact that the first two deaths in South Africa were women from the Western Cape, he could not currently share further details.

“Minister Mkhize will share more details later today, but the Western Cape already had more than 200 of the 927 confirmed cases in the country on Thursday. The numbers are bound to increase, that’s why we need to do all we can to slow down the spread of the virus through the lockdown and people staying home,” he says.

Gauteng remains the epicentre of the virus in South Africa, with 409 of the 927 confirmed Covid-19 cases on Thursday.

The Western Cape has the second highest number of cases at 229, while KwaZulu-Natal has the third highest with 134 cases. These numbers are expected to be updated later on Friday.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases globally has topped the half-a-million mark and US-based Johns Hopkins University now estimates that the US has more suspected and confirmed cases of Covid-19 than China and Italy. The US, China and Italy all have more than 80 000 cases, but Italy still has the highest death toll.

Globally the death toll has surpassed the 23 000-mark.

To track the spread of the virus, visit Microsoft’s map here.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: CDC [1], [2].

South Africa’s Lock-down Explained

South Africa will be going into a 21-day national lock-down, beginning at midnight on Thursday 26th March. To clarify, Thursday will be the final “normal” workday for South Africans, and the lock-down will begin on Thursday night. The lock-down will end at midnight on Thursday 16th April, so the first standard workday will be Friday 17th April.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made exceptions for certain businesses to remain open during the lock-down period, including drug stores, grocery stores, and banks. While people may be panic buying at present, the government has assured everyone that this is not necessary, as normal the supply of goods will remain during the period.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) and South African National Defense Force (SANDF) will be patrolling to ensure that the lock-down rules are adhered to. This is South Africa’s opportunity to “flatten the curve” – stemming the rapid spread of COVID-19. If we work together, we can reduce the infection rate, and work towards restoring normality.

Anyone found to be breaking the rules of the lock-down could be imprisoned. Please follow the President’s instructions and remain at home.

To track the spread of the virus, click here. And for information about coronavirus from the WHO, click here. Below are some infographics explaining the SA lock-down.

Please note that Relocation Africa staff will be working from home during the lock-down period. Our landline will be down, but we will be contactable via email.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Mauritius Under Lock-down to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Mauritius is officially under lock-down for two weeks, as the number of Covid-19 cases rose to seven. Consequently, to tackle to spread of Covid-19, employees will not go to work as from tomorrow, except those who are part of the essential services like the Police Force, medical services, and fire and rescue services, amongst others.

In a televised address to the nation on 19 March, Prime Minister Jugnauth recalled that the lock-down decision has been taken after an urgent Cabinet meeting held, today, in an effort to reduce the impact of the coronavirus. With the aim to limit the spread of the virus, the Prime Minister urged the citizens to stay at home. He cautioned that economic activities and transport services will be reduced to the strict minimum. However, businesses like banks, supermarkets, shops, bakeries and pharmacies will operate normally. An additional list of businesses which will be allowed to run will be subsequently communicated to the public.

Mr Juganuth called on the population to respect the instructions given by the authorities and to practice social distancing. Solidarity and collaboration of one and all are important in these hard times, he added.

He reassured employees of the formal sector that they will neither lose their jobs or salaries. Government, he stated, will do its best to preserve jobs and ensure that foodstuffs and medicines are available for everyone.

Speaking about his meeting, with the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Arvin Boolell, the Prime Minister stated that they have both agreed that these exceptional circumstances require stringent measures like the lock-down.

The Prime Minister also thanked the health personnel for their dedication, professionalism and wonderful work.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

South Africa on Lock-down from Midnight Thursday 26th

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a drastic new measure to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in South Africa – a three week lockdown with severe restrictions on travel and movement, supported by the South African National Defence Force.

Speaking in a briefing on Monday evening, Ramaphosa thanked the nation and people from all sectors for heeding the call to tackle the growing crisis. However, he said that more needed to be done to avoid “an enormous catastrophe” among the population.

Staying home and avoiding all social engagements and contact with other people has proven to be the most effective way to avoid spreading the virus – but we must now do everything within our means to curb infections.

Ramaphosa said that the next few days are crucial. Without decisive action the number of cases will increase. This extremely dangerous for a population like South Africa, he said.

Those countries that have acted swiftly and dramatically have been far more effective in controlling the spread of the disease. “Without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands, and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands,” the president said.

The president announced that  new measures would now be put in place to urgently and dramatically escalate the response. The main measure is a three week lock-down (21 days) taking effect from midnight on Thursday, 26 March to midnight on Thursday 16 April.

This includes:

  • All South Africans will have to stay at home.
  • Exempted: health workers in public and private health sectors; emergency personnel; security services such as police and soldiers; those involved in the production and supply of food and basic goods; those working in essential services.
  • People will only be able to leave their homes to buy food, visit the pharmacy, or seek medical care; or to collect a social grant.
  • Shelters for homeless people will be identified, as well as quarantine areas for those who cannot self-isolate at home.
  • All businesses will close – only medical facilities pharmacies, laboratories, petrol stations and food stores will remain open;
  • Essential transport services will also continue.

Specific plans on exemptions and services that will remain open are to be be published in due course, the president said.

The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown are the following: health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services – such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other persons necessary for our response to the pandemic.

It will also include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water, and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products.

All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.

Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open, the [resident said.

“The lockdown is necessary to fundamentally shift the progression of the virus,” Ramaphosa said. The SANDF has been deployed to support government in the plan, as screening and testing is ramped up to identify high-risk areas.

The announced measures come after a memorandum on the SANDF deployment and a presentation from advisors to the president were leaked to the media.

Similar measures have been taken in other countries affected by the virus, including European countries where the spread has been exponential, putting severe strain on medical facilities and supplies.

Support plan

Ramaphosa said the government will put measures in place to assist local businesses which will be negatively affected by the restrictions implemented during the lockdown.

Money will be spent to save lives and to help businesses survive, and Ramaphosa noted that the Rupert and Oppenheimer families have donated R1 billion each to the cause.

“We call on large business in particular to take care of their employees,” added Ramaphosa.

R200 million will also be made available to small and medium businesses in the tourism sector who have been hit hard by travel restrictions, said the president.

Coronavirus in South Africa

South Africa now has 402 confirmed cases of Covid-19 – an increase of 128 from Sunday’s announcement. There have been no deaths, however, Ramaphosa said the number of infections will continue to rise.

As of Monday (23 March), 360,000 cases have been confirmed around the world, with over 15,400 deaths. 100,600 people have recovered from the virus, but 244,000 remain infected – 11,600 of which are in serious or critical condition.

Italy has overtaken China in terms of deaths as a result of the virus, with alarming numbers reported each day. The USA, meanwhile, is recording the most number of new cases, with the latest jump of 7,000 new cases reported.

To track the spread of the virus across the world, visit Microsoft’s map site. And for information about COVID-19, visit the World Health Organization’s site.

We implore everyone to follow President Ramaphosa’s instructions, and take the 21 day lock-down seriously. This may be our only chance to slow the spread of the virus, and protect everyone, including ourselves. Please do not panic buy/stockpile – there is enough for everyone in stores. Stay at home. Stay calm. Stay healthy. We can get through this together.

Click below to view the President’s speech.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.
Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].