President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the pandemic a national disaster. Here are some of the ways the coronavirus has impacted on the Western Cape. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency
President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the pandemic a national disaster. Here are some of the ways the coronavirus has impacted on the Western Cape. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency

This is how the coronavirus outbreak has affected the Western Cape

By Mwangi Githahu, Sisonke Mlamla, Shakirah Thebus And Marvin Charles Time of article published Mar 16, 2020

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Cape Town - With 61 the latest number of people infected with Covid-19, the government last night announced drastic measures to combat the spread of the virus.

Addressing the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the pandemic a national disaster with measures which include:

* Closing of all schools from Wednesday until after the Easter weekend.

* A prohibition of gatherings of over 100 people.

* A travel ban on foreign nationals from high risk countries .

* Cancellation on visas granted to travellers from high risk countries

* A prohibition on all non essential domestic travel.

* Of the 53 land ports, 35 will be shut down with effect from today.

* Two of the eight sea ports will be shut down.

* Cancellation of mass celebrations such as Human Rights Day and other large government events.

Ramaphosa issued a travel ban on people travelling from Italy, China, UK, and several other countries. Visas will be revoked

Ramaphosa added that all travellers who entered the country from mid-February from high-risk areas will be required to present themselves for testing.

“Never before in the history of our democracy has our country been confronted with such a severe situation.

“This situation calls for an extraordinary response; there can be no half measures.

“We have decided to take urgent and drastic measures to manage the disease, protect the people of our country and reduce the impact of the virus on our society and on our economy,” Ramaphosa said.

He urged all citizens to exercise caution, be vigilant and ensure they sanitise their hands.

“In essence, we are calling for a change of behaviour amongst all South

Africans. We must minimise physical contact with other people, and, encourage the elbow greeting rather than shaking hands.

Because of the severity of this virus and its rapid spreading, government will make funding available to capacitate the sectors dealing with the national response to the coronavirus outbreak,” Ramaphosa said.

He said it was clear the disease would be extremely disruptive, but the priority was to safeguard the health and well-being of all South Africans.

“While we are battling a contagious virus, perhaps the greatest dangers to our country at this time are fear and ignorance.

We must appreciate the extent of the threat that this disease presents, we must accept the anxiety that it causes, but we cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by fear and panic.

We should stop spreading fake and unverified news and create further apprehension and alarm.

While we are facing a medical emergency far graver than we have experienced in recent times, we are not helpless,” Ramaphosa said.

While Europe is now the epicentre of Covid-19 and the world death toll continuing to rise, several other countries have announced stringent measures to protect their citizens.

Here at home a number of a number of events have been cancelled or postponed.

* The Over-50s Cricket World Cup being staged in and around Cape Town has been cancelled.

* The Two Oceans Marathon has been cancelled.

* The rest of the Super 15 Rugby Tournament matches have been put on hold. All teams currently in other countries are to return home to their respective countries.

* The annual Cape Town Jazz Festival has been postponed until further notice

* The annual Cape Town Big Walk (CTBW), scheduled for this Sunday, and would have celebrated their 20th anniversary this year, has been postponed

* Community Chest announced that it would be closing down its offices for five days starting from today in solidarity with national and global efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

* United Herzlia Schools will conduct online classes as of today after it was forced to temporarily close down eight of its campuses last week.

* The annual Cape Town Carnival parade has been called off.

* St Cyprian’s School for girls in Orangezicht said it’s Covid-19 Specialist Advisory Team advised the school to close earlier due to its close proximity to United Herzlia. Principal Shelley Frayne said classes would continue to take place online for Grade R to 12.

* Ladismith Black Mambazo cancelled the rest of their world tour because of concerns over the virus.

* Numerous events planned for the Cape Town International Convention Centre have been cancelled or postponed.

Higher education institutions have cancelled graduations and other formal gatherings amid the spread of global coronavirus pandemic.

* UCT has decided to postpone the installation of their chancellor which was supposed to be today, and to suspend the March graduation ceremonies, scheduled to start on Thursday.

* Stellenbosch University registrar, Dr Ronel Retief said the university has constituted a Contingency Committee a month ago to coordinate the University’s preparedness for a possible local coronavirus outbreak.

* Rhodes University have also postponed their graduation event until further notice.

University of Witwatersrand on Sunday revealed that it was informed that the medical student who has been quarantined since last Wednesday has tested positive for the coronavirus (Covid-19).

In light of that, the university has cancelled all contact classes for the Graduate Entry Medical Programme 1 - MBBCh 3 classes. The academic programme would continue online .

Cape Town’s biggest mosque Masjidul-Quds in Athlone announced it would temporarily close as from tomorrow.

“The Gatesville Mosque will adhere to any requirement called for by the state president to fight the scourge of this dreaded virus globally.

“It will have a huge impact on the daily running of the mosque which, on Fridays, has a congregation of over 5 000.

As part of it’s proactive policy, the mosque is also exploring the possibility of rolling out to the aged and underprivileged a flu inoculation programme before winter sets in.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said: “Viruses do not have passports, they don’t know borders, they don’t respect race or colour.”

Makgoba said he is “desperately worried” that South Africans - and people throughout Africa - are not taking the coronavirus seriously enough. “A lot of people will be affected if

the virus spreads in South Africa, with its high incidence of HIV, Aids and TB.”

@TheCapeArgus

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Cape Argus

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