As the country readies itself to go into lockdown, as was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa this week, regulations pertaining to the lockdown are yet to be made public. The Disaster Management Act of 2002 gives the President and his Executive powers to institute measures that will contain the disaster that is being dealt with. However, regulations breath life to those measures by guiding individuals, companies, employers and employees about what is permissible and what is not.
While the regulations are yet to be published, the DA is calling for strict and clear implementation of these regulations. We cannot afford mixed-messaging from our government at such a critical time.
If we are to rely on South Africans to be partners during this time, then we need to ensure that the citizenry is well-informed and reminded throughout the 21-day period of what is allowed and what is not. This is where partnership with the public broadcaster and other broadcasters and telecommunications companies could really improve public awareness.
This morning the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has confirmed that there are now 709 cases of those who have been infected by the Coronavirus. This number is expected to rise exponentially over the coming days and weeks. This means that social distancing is now our best chance of breaking the transmission chain and reducing the number of people who will be infected. That is why clear communication to the public; increased testing capacity; availing of isolation facilities and encouraging those who can stay at home to do so, will be key.
The Minister has also indicated that Mangaung could potentially be an epicentre due to the number of infections that are being discovered in that area following a church conference.
This is concerning news as the Free State health system could struggle to cope with those who are infected and who require urgent medical attention. We need to avoid incidents like this from happening again across the country. This will only depend on whether strict implementation of the regulations is adhered to.
South Africa can ill-afford to shut down the economy for three weeks and not have this national lockdown yield any meaningful results in our fight against this pandemic. Countries who have managed to flatten the curve and recover from the effects of Covid-19 did so because of strict social distancing measures. We need to get this right. There is no room for errors. While we encourage all South Africans to adhere to the lockdown, they can only do so if clear guidelines are made public and enforced.
The DA will be engaging the Minister of Health in this regard to ensure that there is no confusion.