DA extends its condolences to the families of first South African COVID-19 victims

 Please find attached soundbite from John Steenhuisen MP.

We learnt with sadness this morning of the first loss of life in South Africa to COVID-19. Two women, one 28 year-old and one 48 year-old, both in the Western Cape, succumbed to the virus this morning. Their identities have not yet been released. On behalf of the Democratic Alliance I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to their friends and relatives. Our thoughts and prayers are with you in these difficult times.

This sad news is a reminder that this deadly virus is very real, and not something that happens far away to other people. It will spread through our communities – as it has done elsewhere in the world – and all that stands in the way of significant loss of life is our collective effort as a nation. We dare not take the lockdown measures lightly.

To date there is no cure and there is no vaccine. The only weapon we have in the fight against this virus is time. If we can slow down the infections by breaking the social contacts that spread the virus, we can buy our healthcare workers the precious time needed to treat those who require critical care.

I call on each and every South African to play their part over the coming weeks. Yes, the effects of this lockdown on our economy and on our people’s livelihoods will be brutal. But the alternative will be far, far worse. It is imperative that we all make the sacrifice now that could save the lives of thousands. And following this, we must all roll up our sleeves to rebuild what we lost.

Please stay in your home and respect the rules put in place. Don’t travel, unless it’s absolutely essential. Don’t meet with friends or colleagues. Don’t congregate in supermarkets. Maintain a safe distance from others. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, and don’t touch your face. That is the only way we will break the chain of infection.

This may be uncharted territory for the whole world, but I know South Africans have what it takes to overcome adversity. We’ve stood united before, and we can do so again. Our actions today can save the lives of many – particularly our grandmothers and grandfathers, and all those who may not have the protection of a robust immune system.

While we separate ourselves physically, let us stand together in spirit. And please join us as we observe a minute’s silence at midday today in honour of the two women who lost their lives this morning.