Despite the Level 4 lockdown downgrade, President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa needs to plan for the worst, as the country is yet to experience the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’ve got to plan for the worst. We are informed that the worst is still coming. We are going to get more people infected. The important thing is that we need to show that we lessen the pace at which these infections take place,” he said on Tuesday.
Ramaphosa was addressing the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Command Council in Mayville, Durban. The council in charge of the province’s response to Covid-19.
He said the only way to lessen the impact of the virus was to ready the health system.
“We will be able to do that by getting facilities ready and there continues to be social distancing and people continue to wash their hands. It is through actions as individuals that we spread the virus.”
Ramaphosa said there would also be an acute focus on the economy going forward.
“Covid-19 has brought about the total destruction of the economy. The economy, as we speak now, is under a great deal of stress. We now collectively must respond to how we will rebuild and reposition the economy.”
He said the impact of Covid-19 on the economy was akin to a post-war scenario.
“How do we reconstruct our economy after coronavirus, knowing it has been dealt a huge blow? I’m characterising the coronavirus like a post-war situation. We have been fighting an invisible enemy and now we must start planning for a post-war situation.”
Ramaphosa said that South Africa had to undertake a massive hygiene campaign, post-Covid-19 and post-Level 5 lockdown.
“We identified the issue of hygiene as the key area that needs to be addressed. I guess with the lockdown, we could not properly wrap our hands around it.”
He said something had to be done as soon as possible.
“The time has arrived as, we move down other levels of the lockdown, the time has arrived to clean up our country. We now need to embark on a massive campaign countrywide to clean up South Africa.”
Ramaphosa said government had to deal with issues like waste dumps and hygiene, and had to “clean up the streets of our country, including rural areas, as well including high density areas like townships”.
“There is no reason our people should continue living in squalor.”