It has been just over ten months since the first Covid-19 case in South Africa. Tracking the critical moments over the period reveals how the country went from a mere two cases at the beginning of March to currently reaching over 1.1 million cases.
From the onset, South Africa implemented strict measures, with multi-level lockdowns, the ban on travel, and restrictions on alcohol and cigarettes. These measures initially helped to slow the rate of infections. However, the country now finds itself backtracking as alert level 3 was reintroduced last week, and daily infections are at its highest.
Citizens are now turning their eyes to how the government will handle the national vaccine distribution. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize revealed that the country would receive its first batch of vaccines later this month and is planning on distribution for February.
Here are the key events in South Africa’s Covid-19 timeline:
6 March 2020
- South Africa confirms its first case of Covid-19.
15 March 2020
- President Cyril Ramaphosa declares Covid-19 pandemic a national disaster.
27 March 2020
- The first day of the 21-day stay at home lockdown. Only essential services and businesses are operating. No alcohol or cigarette sales are permitted, and citizens may not travel or attend any form of gatherings.
- Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced South Africa’s had recorded its first two Covid-19 related deaths and infections were over 1000.
9 April 2020
- Ramaphosa announces that the country’s national lockdown would be extended by two weeks, beyond the initial 21 days.
13 April 2020
- South Africa records its first Covid-19 death of a patient who had no underlying medical condition.
21 April 2020
- Ramaphosa announces a R500 billion support package for the economy.
23 April 2020
- Ramaphosa outlines a phased relaxation of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and detailed a 5 level alert system with clearly defined levels.
24 April 2020
- President Cyril Ramaphosa announces that lockdown restrictions will be eased for the first time.
1 May 2020
- South Africa moves to Level 4, Western Cape becomes SA's Covid-19 epicentre
11 May 2020
- Special R350 coronavirus social grants open for application
1 June 2020
- South Africa enters into alert level 3 of the national lockdown. Alcohol is permitted to be sold for home consumption on specified days and hours. The sale of tobacco products remains prohibited. Schools and universities are reopening with a phased approach. After 10 weeks of the ban on commercial flights in the country limited domestic air travel was permitted for business purposes.
11 June 2020
- The health department says more than a million Covid-19 tests have been completed in South Africa.
23 June 2020
- First Covid-19 vaccine trial in South Africa begins
4 July 2020
- 100 days since South Africa went into lockdown in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus
- South Africa records the highest number of confirmed infections in one day: 13 674
12 July 2020
- Ramaphosa announces the immediate ban of alcohol sales while the country remains in alert level 3. Mkhize says the decision to ban alcohol sales is to alleviate the pressure on hospitals. A curfew from 9pm-4am is introduced and family visits are prohibited.
19 July 2020
- South Africa became the fifth-worst affected by the coronavirus cases globally with more than 360 000 infections
23 July 2020
- Ramaphosa announces temporary closure of schools
15 August 2020
- President Ramaphosa announces the lowering of restrictions to level 2 and the extension of the national state of disaster by another month.
20 September 2020
- South Africa moves to alert level 1 of the national lockdown.
18 October 2020
- Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize announced that he had tested positive for the Covid-19.
11 November 2020
- Relaxation of international travel, shop trading hours restrictions along with continued Covid-19 unemployment support is announced.
3 December 2020
- President announces a resurgence of Covid-19 in some districts of the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.
7 December 2020
- Government announces that end-of-school parties known as "rage parties" are super spreader events.
9 December 2020
- The Minister of Health announced that the country had entered the second wave.
14 December 2020
- Ramaphosa announces the closure of some beaches, lowering of the number of people that can attend gatherings and the tightening of other measures to curb the second wave.
18 December 2020
- Mkhize announces that scientists had discovered a new variant of coronavirus. The new strain is driving a second wave of infections.
27 December 2020
- The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases reaches 1 million.
28 December 2020
- Ramaphosa announces that South Africa would enter an adjusted level 3 lockdown for two weeks.
3 January 2021
- Mkhize reveals the country’s three phased Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy. Government aims to vaccinate 67% of the country’s population against Covid-19 to achieve herd immunity.
4 January 2021
- South Africa breaches the 30 000 mark for the cumulative number of Covid-19 related deaths
7 January 2021
- Health ministry announces the country will get 1.5 million vaccines from the Serum Institute of India (SII), with a million coming in January and the remainder in February.