President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended the lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
In an evening address on Thursday, Ramaphosa personally thanked South Africans for adhering to the strict measures and lockdown regulations already in place, saying the battle to flatten the curve was far from over.
The lockdown, which was due to end 16 April, will now be in effect until 30 April.
“This evening, I stand before you to ask you to endure even longer. I have to ask you to make even greater sacrifices so that our country may survive this crisis and so that tens of thousands of lives may be saved,” said Ramaphosa in his address.
Two weeks ago, Ramaphosa announced he had taken a decision to lock down the country, a week after declaring a national state of disaster.
The measures have seen a travel ban being put in place, borders being closed as well as schools, restaurants and shops being shut down, while only permitting essential services to operate.
South Africans were encouraged to stay at home and practice social distancing.
Members of the South African National Defence Force were also deployed to support the police to enforce lockdown regulations.
Ramaphosa said ending the lockdown too soon would put the country at risk of a massive and uncontrollable resurgence of the virus, adding this could erode all the work done to fight it in recent weeks, including personal sacrifices made by many.
He said since he announced the lockdown, the pandemic had worsened around the globe.
“Two weeks ago, there were 340 000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the world. We now have over 1.5 million confirmed cases worldwide. Over 90 000 people across the world have died from this disease.”
Ramaphosa added the health systems of many countries have been overwhelmed, with even the most developed economies in the world struggling to cater to the thousands who have been infected by the pandemic.
He said he had discussions with the leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament, adding they had pledged their support for his government.
Ramaphosa added he also held meetings with premiers across the country who had brought him up to speed on their own efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
He thanked the country for reaffirming to the world that his was a nation that was able to unite at moments of great crisis.
“As we confront this disease in our country, we are part of a great global effort that is bringing humanity together in ways that many never thought possible.”
Ramaphosa said the coronavirus had changed everything for many across the globe, adding the country needed to adapt to the new reality.
He added he believed the country would have to undergo a process of fundamental reconstruction as it emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“To do so, we will draw on our strengths: our abundant natural resources, our advanced infrastructure, our deep financial markets, our proven capabilities in information and communication technology, and the depth of talent among our people.”
Ramaphosa said South Africa would learn from global experience but craft a uniquely South African response that used its own capabilities as a nation.