South Africa's first deaths linked to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) are a stark reminder of the seriousness of the threat the country is facing, the DA and IFP said in reaction to the news on Friday.
On the first day of a 21-day lockdown, it was announced that two women had died because of the coronavirus.
The two women were 28 and 48 years of age, according to the Department of Health.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said the 48-year-old woman's condition worsened while in intensive care, while the 28-year-old was admitted to hospital on Thursday and received emergency healthcare.
"A few short months ago, the world learnt of a virus that was spreading rapidly through the province of one country, leaving little in its wake but chaos and mourning," Winde said in a statement.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen extended his condolences to the families of the two women, adding that the only weapon we had in the fight against the coronavirus was time.
Not the start to lockdown 'we hoped for'
"I call on each and every South African to play a part over the coming weeks. Yes, the effects of this lockdown on our economy and on our people's livelihoods will be brutal. But the alternative will be far, far worse.
"It is imperative that we all make the sacrifice now that could save the lives of thousands. And, following this, we must all roll up our sleeves to rebuild what we lost."
The IFP's Mkhuleko Hlengwa said South Africans should now take a step back from the jokes which have characterised the approach to the coronavirus. It was time to take it seriously.
"These deaths indicate this pandemic is very serious. It's a very sad day and not the kind of start we had hoped for as far as the lockdown is concerned," said Hlengwa.
The IFP leader, however, also raised concerns about the shortage of water in rural parts of South Africa. He said, in his village on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, they had recently gone without water for 10 days – until he exerted pressure on the municipality.
"If we don't have water, we can't comply with the restrictions of the lockdown. Secondly, we have been told to wash our hands for the purpose of hygiene. There needs to be a focus on water.
"The lived reality on the ground must mirror the regulations," he said.
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