President Cyril Ramaphosa is willing to test for Covid-19 if the need arises, but for now he is still in good health.
This is the assurance given by the presidency last night after ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe, who had been in contact with the president, confirmed that he has been tested. The results of his test are pending.
In the days before Meshoe met the president, he participated in a Free State gathering where five international guests subsequently tested positive to Covid-19 virus. Meshoe met Ramaphosa together with other political parties in Cape Town on Tuesday.
"The president is in good health. There is absolutely no need [for the test]. As the protocol indicates, we will only make that decision once we get guidance from health [department], following Rev Meshoe's test," Ramaphosa's spokesperson Khusela Diko said.
Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said so far there were no Covid-19 symptoms from Ramaphosa that necessitates a test.
"We can assure you that if there is evidence that the president must undergo any test or any of us, we will not even wink an eye about it, we will not hesitate, we will do so."
Meshoe announced yesterday that he had been tested.
Ramaphosa was expected to brief the nation on Covid-19 last night but this was postponed as the central command council which coordinates the entire response of government to the virus was still meeting and had not concluded its deliberations.
Mthembu said matters before the council were very serious and the president needed to be properly briefed.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a drastic new measure to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in South Africa – a three week lockdown with severe restrictions on travel and movement, supported by the South African National Defence Force.
Speaking in a briefing on Monday evening, Ramaphosa thanked the nation and people from all sectors for heeding the call to tackle the growing crisis. However, he said that more needed to be done to avoid “an enormous catastrophe” among the population.
Staying home and avoiding all social engagements and contact with other people has proven to be the most effective way to avoid spreading the virus – but we must now do everything within our means to curb infections.
Ramaphosa said that the next few days are crucial. Without decisive action the number of cases will increase. This extremely dangerous for a population like South Africa, he said.
Those countries that have acted swiftly and dramatically have been far more effective in controlling the spread of the disease. “Without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands, and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands,” the president said.
The president announced that new measures would now be put in place to urgently and dramatically escalate the response. The main measure is a three week lockdown (21 days) taking effect from midnight on Thursday, 26 March to Thursday 16 April.
- All South Africans will have to stay at home.
- Exempted: health workers in public and private health sectors; emergency personnel; security services such as police and soldiers; those involved in the production and supply of food and basic goods; those working in essential services.
- People will only be able to leave their homes to buy food, visit the pharmacy, or seek medical care; or to collect a social grant.
- Shelters for homeless people will be identified, as well as quarantine areas for those who cannot self-isolate at home.
- All businesses will close – only medical facilities pharmacies, laboratories, petrol stations and food stores will remain open;
- Essential transport services will also continue.
Specific plans on exemptions and services that will remain open are to be be published in due course, the president said.