Mass coronavirus screening and testing programme to be rolled out - Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced government will roll out a comprehensive screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme in the coming days as the number of people infected with Covid-19 increased to 1 326.

Ramaphosa made this announcement in an address to the nation on Monday evening.

He also said that the number of deaths in South Africa as a result of the pandemic had increased to three as he continued to plead with the nation to take the deadly disease seriously.

Around 10 000 field workers will be visiting homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents for Covid-19 symptoms, he announced.

People with symptoms will be referred to local or mobile clinics for testing, while those who are found to be infected but experiencing mild symptoms will remain in isolation at home or at a government-run facility, he said.

READ | The numbers game: SA dramatically ramps up testing, but trends remain unclear

"Those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals. Using mobile technology, an extensive tracing system will be rapidly deployed to trace those who have been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases and to monitor the geographical location of new cases in real time," the president said.

'Act within the law'

"This drive is far-reaching, it is intensive and it is unprecedented in scale."

Thanking those within the state's essential services, which include the security cluster of police and the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), he cautioned that government had made it clear that their task was that of supporting, reassuring and comforting the nation.

He said they had "to ensure peace and order is maintained. They know that they must act within the law at all times and that they must not cause harm to any of our people".

Several videos showing law enforcement officers, including SANDF members, abusing and assaulting members of the public who were not adhering to the lockdown rules, have been widely shared on social media platforms in recent days.

ALSO READ | Pandemic politics: Community health workers gear up to fight Covid-19 with little protection, and less pay

These acts were in direct contrast with the orders Ramaphosa had given SANDF members and police last Thursday before they were deployed.

"We have never experienced a situation like this before and a number of mistakes will be made, but we ask for our people's understanding that all this is being done for the good of everyone.

"We will continue to correct the mistakes wherever they are made, but I am convinced that we will succeed, because we will take this coronavirus threat seriously, we will adapt as a society and we will all act responsibly," he said.

He added that if the country worked together, South Africa would beat the disease.


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