President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday announced a national lockdown in an effort to curtail the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), with the deployment of the South African National Defence Force to support the police.

“I have accordingly directed the South African National Defence Force be deployed to support the South African Police Service in ensuring that the measures we are announcing are implemented,” Ramaphosa announced at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. 

“This nationwide lockdown will be accompanied by a public health management programme, which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management. 

The president said the lockdown was mandatory and had to be implemented to ensure that the spread of the covid-19 virus is reduced and the curve is flattened. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA

“Community health teams will focus on expanding screening and testing where people live, focusing first on high density and high-risk areas,” the president said.

To ensure that hospitals are not overwhelmed, Ramaphosa said a system would be implemented for “centralised patient management” for severe cases and “decentralised primary care” for mild cases.

“Emergency water supplies – using water storage tanks, water tankers, boreholes and communal standpipes – are being provided to informal settlements and rural areas,” Ramaphosa announced. 

Commander in Chief of the South African Armed Forces His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation from the Union Buildings in Tshwane on government’s response on additional extraordinary measures to contain and combat the rapid spread of Coronavirus.

The President’s address follows the continuing consultations held over last week with Political Leaders represented in Parliament, faith based organizations and business leaders.

The President has also chaired the National Command Council which received an update on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak; progress and challenges related to implementation of the recently promulgated regulations on the state of disaster and other measures to protect the country, as well as economic impact. 23/03/2020. Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Earlier on Monday, the health department announced that South Africa had 402 cases of Covid-19, a rapid increase from the 274 cases reported on Sunday.