South Africans have duty to honour lockdown

DO THE RIGHT THING: President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation from the Union Buildings in Tshwane on Monday to announce additional extraordinary measures to contain and combat the rapid spread of coronavirus
DO THE RIGHT THING: President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation from the Union Buildings in Tshwane on Monday to announce additional extraordinary measures to contain and combat the rapid spread of coronavirus
Image: JAIRUS MMUTLE/GCIS

At about 8pm on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered what has been one of his most poignant presidential addresses yet — announcing a 21-day countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The announcement comes just more than a week after officials confirmed the first positive case of the killer virus in SA.

In what seems like a lifetime since then, that number has steadily increased and will almost certainly continue to do so.

“It is clear from the development of the disease in other countries and from our own modelling that immediate, swift and extraordinary action is required if we are to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportions in our country,” Ramaphosa said.

And we agree.

While the president has come under fire for delaying crucial announcements, we imagine it must have been an extremely difficult decision.

Difficult, but necessary.

Earlier measures announced by Ramaphosa on March 15 seem to have had little effect.

Just this week, we wrote about the funeral of ANC branch secretary Xolani Sifali on Sunday, where about 250 people gathered at the Feather Market Centre — well in excess of the ban on gatherings of 100 or more.

Those among us who have not taken the restrictions seriously enough amid the virus’s rapid spread are the reason the country has had to resort to even more stringent measures.

For three weeks, starting at midnight on Thursday, people will have to stay at home.

Only health workers in the public and private sectors; emergency personnel; and those in security services such as police, traffic officers, military medical personnel and soldiers — and other people considered necessary for SA’s response to the pandemic will be exempted from the lockdown.

The president has done his part. So too have the officials working alongside him  from all spheres of society.

Can more be done? Absolutely!

But it is also now up to us, each and every individual, to ensure we flatten the curve of the outbreak and ensure not one soul is lost to Covid-19.

After all, it is these next few days — not even weeks — that will ultimately determine how we come out of this on the other end.

“In the days, weeks and months ahead our resolve, our resourcefulness and our unity as a nation will be tested as never before,” Ramaphosa said.

“I call on all of us, one and all, to play our part. To be courageous, to be patient, and above all, to show compassion.

“Let us never despair. For we are a nation at one and we will surely prevail.”

And we, the team at The Herald, will continue to bring you committed coverage of the crisis, both in print and online, amid trying circumstances.

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