A day of firsts as SA makes it through first day in lockdown

2020-03-28 09:08
Athlone residents queued outside shops in Gatesville on the first day of the country's 21 day lockdown.

Athlone residents queued outside shops in Gatesville on the first day of the country's 21 day lockdown. (Bertram Malgas)

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South Africa has completed its first day in national lockdown and it was a day full of firsts.

South Africa’s first Covid-19 related death

The coronavirus claimed its first fatality on Friday.

The 48-year-old woman had been in intensive care at the Durbanville Medi-Clinic. Her husband told Netwerk24 he suspected his wife may have been more susceptible to the novel coronavirus owing to a recently discovered blood clot in one of her lungs.

"We mourn this loss as a province and as a country. Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of the deceased,” Western Cape Premiere, Alan Winde, said.

Numbers continue to rise, surging above 1000 infections to 1 170 on Friday.

First arrests

As the clock struck 23:59 on Thursday and the lockdown began, it seemed some were unbothered.

Police arrested several people in a raid on taverns and clubs where people had been drinking.

On Friday, Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, said 55 people in total had been arrested for flouting lockdown regulations as police were "abuzz" with reports from citizens.

Some, however, seemingly tried to test boundaries as a cyclist was among those arrested.

Cele, however, maintained the police were "being very kind", saying "wait until you see more force".

Transport hiccups

Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, said he had noted non-compliance by some in the sector, including taxis which were being filled to capacity which is against regulations.

With South Africa’s air ports of entry now closed due to the lockdown, Mbalula said there were a number of foreign nationals who struggled to get home and were now being assisted by their respective consulates.

Some in the sector had also raised concerns, including the taxi industry who raised objections to regulation requirements that it could not exceed 50% of its legal capacity.

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Mbalula said his department would find a solution to this and other concerns that do not compromise the lockdown.

South Africans have been staying home

Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, said many South Africans across the country had been cooperating with the lockdown.

"We have seen enormously high levels of cooperation by tens of million of South Africans who have followed the call by the President to stay at home. We have seen major cities that have been emptied, office blocks that have been deserted, and we’d like to thank fellow South Africans for that," Patel said.

Shoppers still shopping

Patel said retailers were able to restock their shelves on Friday following after many South Africans rushed to the shops before the lockdown began.

He said he had met with retailers to identify ways to manage the shopping process with as little movement of people as possible.

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"We must shorten the queues outside the retail stores [and] decrease the number of people inside the store to prevent the spread of the virus," Patel said.

"We will be refining the measures in place to ensure greater social distancing inside the supermarkets but critically outside the supermarkets too.

"There are a number of measures being looked at, for example, for some of the retailers they will now be providing trolleys to those in the queue so that there is at a distance constituted by the trolley," Patel said.

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He added his department would be consulting with Cele regarding additional measures that will enable fewer people to stand in the queues and gathering in places where the virus can spread.

Following the panic and mass buying in the days leading up to the lockdown, Patel said shops will be restocking their shelves over the next two days to ensure shoppers had essentials and thanked those in the industry for their hard work in doing this.

For more on the lockdown and other stories listen to our podcast here on SoundCloud.

Read more on:    coronavirus  |  lockdown

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