- President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa owes much to the "dedicated and brave" healthcare workers and their families.
- He called on South Africans to adhere to preventative measures to help ease health workers' burden.
- This as the Covid-19 pandemic reached a second wave of infections in South Africa.
In lauding health workers for their bravery and dedication on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa also called on South Africans to adhere to prevention measures to ease their burden.
"Just as our doctors, nurses and frontline workers are working tirelessly to protect us, we must work tirelessly to protect them," Ramaphosa said on Monday evening when he addressed the nation in the midst of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.
He said to date, over 38 000 health workers in the public sector have tested positive for the coronavirus. Of these, nearly 5 000 were admitted to hospital.
"Sadly, 391 health workers in the public sector have passed away," he said.
He called on South Africans to act responsibly and to adhere at all times to the basic precautions. Otherwise "we will face a bleak new year", he warned.
"This festive season, I am asking you to keep your celebrations small and to avoid crowds.
"If you are spending time with other people, I am asking you to do so outside, enjoying the splendid South African summer weather, or at least to make sure that you are in a well-ventilated space.
"I am asking you to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth whenever in public, or in the company of people you don't live with."
He said there is no point in wearing a mask on your chin or keeping it in your pocket or lowering it to speak.
"Remember to regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or with sanitiser."
He asked people to limit their travel as much as possible and to ensure that they travel safely.
"If you are going to visit friends and family, limit your number of contacts for at least one week before you travel and try to spend time with only your immediate family or as small a group of people as possible."
He said the virus affected people differently.
"According to the World Health Organization, most people are likely to develop mild or moderate illness and will recover without hospitalisation.
"The most common symptoms are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Less common, but moderate, symptoms are aches and pains, sore throat, and a loss of taste or smell.
"If you experience these symptoms, then you should isolate yourself from others. If you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of speech or movement, you should seek immediate medical attention.
"Please remember that if you have tested positive for coronavirus or if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you should immediately isolate yourself from others."
Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.