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News, May 2020
With 11,350 Covid-19 Cases and 206 Deaths, President Cyril Ramaphosa Struggles to Keep the Lockdown in South Africa
May 12, 2020
South Africa’s positive Covid-19 cases totalled 11,350 and total deaths so far are 206.
'We are humbled by their bravery' - Ramaphosa salutes nurses on International Nurses Day
News 24, 2020-05-12
By Sesona Ngqakamba
To commemorate International Nurses Day on Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa hailed nurses for their "bravery, hard work and commitment" in the fight against Covid-19.
Ramaphosa said the nation owed its well-being to the untiring commitment of nurses, saying their positive impact on people's lives went beyond physical health.
He described them as community leaders, mentors, counsellors and educators providing psychosocial support to people.
"Nurses are the frontline of our healthcare system and we appreciate the dedication with which they perform their duties in public and private hospitals and clinics; in schools; in mines; in pharmacies; in corporate health and wellness programmes; in non-governmental organisations; in faith-based organisations; in sports federations; as volunteers in different settings, and as neighbours who don't mind being woken up in the middle of the night when we need help.
"Currently, nurses are placing themselves between our communities and the unseen enemy we face in Covid-19. We are humbled by their bravery, their hard work and their commitment to putting the interests of all South Africans before their own and those of their own families.
"Let us pause today to celebrate this invaluable and treasured cadre of our society and let us give them our full support and gratitude into the future," Ramaphosa said in a statement.
In his capacity as the chairperson of the South African National Aids Council (Sanac), Deputy President David Mabuza also lauded nurses for their service in the fight against the novel coronavirus, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis (TB).
"We take this opportunity to convey our special and sincere gratitude to all our nurses throughout the country for their dedication in providing healthcare support to our people. Through their dedication and commitment, nurses play an important role in saving lives of our citizens by providing quality treatment and care" Mabuza said.
Coronavirus: SA cases rise to more than 11 300, with 69% of new cases in Western Cape
News 24, 2020-05-12
By Azarrah Karrim
South Africa’s positive Covid-19 cases totalled 11,350 on Tuesday, with the Western Cape recording 484 of the 698 new cases, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
A total of 369,697 tests have been conducted to date, with 13,630 being done in the last 24 hours.
The Western Cape saw an increase of 484 positive cases on Tuesday, bringing its total to 6,105.
The Eastern Cape’s positive cases increased by 148, to 1,504.
Gauteng saw 43 new cases, with a total now of 2,014 positive cases.
KwaZulu-Natal recorded 22 new cases, bringing its total to 1,394.
South Africa's coronavirus lockdown: Doubts creep in
By Andrew Harding
BBC, 11 May 2020
It is tempting to imagine that South Africa will look back, almost fondly, on late March 2020 as a special moment in its young democracy.
As plenty of nations around the world appeared to flounder, or panic, or even turn their backs on the rising threat of Covid-19, this country was possessed by a rare and extraordinary degree of unity and decisiveness.
President Cyril Ramaphosa - a man whose consensus-building instincts have long been a source of frustration to many here - was transformed into a man of action, brusquely implementing a series of almost unimaginably severe and decisive steps that changed South Africa overnight, and proved stunningly effective at breaking the upward curve of infections.
In an era when so many politicians are reaching for war metaphors and comparisons, this was, you could argue, South Africa's Dunkirk moment - an inspired retreat in the face of a formidable adversary that bought the country essential time (as the Dunkirk evacuations did for war-time Britain's military) to regroup and to shore up its defences.
That "Dunkirk spirit" has not evaporated yet. Far from it. At the grass roots, in particular, South Africa is still bursting with examples of ingenuity and cohesion, as businesses and communities reach out to help each other and to support the millions who are, increasingly, struggling to feed their families.
But we are now over six weeks into what remains one of the toughest lockdowns on earth, the government's health experts are predicting that the peak of the epidemic may still be two or three months away, infection numbers are surging in some regions, and the shocked silence and prompt conformity that greeted Mr Ramaphosa's early diktats has been replaced by an increasingly sceptical, angry, and politicised debate.
A return to business as usual in this famously fractious nation?
Perhaps. But South Africa is entering a long and difficult period in its fight against Covid-19.
To borrow yet another parallel from World War II, you could argue that, after the success of its Dunkirk phase, these could prove to be the country's Stalingrad months - a grinding battle of attrition characterised by tense skirmishes, feuding generals, and a potential collapse in troop morale.
Mr Ramaphosa has not retreated to his bunker - indeed he has continued to win praise for his level-headed approach, urging South Africans to avoid careless or reckless behaviour and to "accept the reality, prepare for it and adapt to it".
But the image of a united African National Congress (ANC) cabinet - so important in terms of convincing the public to endure such hardships indefinitely - is being eroded.
A gap appears to separate those who, perhaps more inclined to follow China's example, are in favour of a more intrusive, heavy-handed approach by the state - including plans to quarantine new confirmed virus cases in hospitals, and the decision to extend the controversial ban on all cigarette and alcohol purchases and to enforce a new overnight curfew - from those in cabinet more attuned to the interests of the business lobby which would prefer to see a lighter touch and the lockdown eased more quickly.
There is logic to both approaches, and nothing wrong with robust debate within government. But as many countries are now discovering, the nuanced calculations and messaging required in this second phase of the pandemic are proving even harder to get right than the pressured decisions of the initial stage.
Cumulative number of coronavirus cases. South Africa. Cumulative number of cases in South Africa .
And the stakes here are particularly high.
Business leaders are now warning that if the lockdown does not ease sharply soon, South Africa's gross domestic product could shrink by over 16%, and up to four million jobs could be threatened - staggering figures for any country, but particularly challenging for an economy already in recession and wrestling with a 27% unemployment rate.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has warned that the government is abusing its power with "arbitrary rules" and "outrageous announcements" that are "increasingly met with resistance and even outright civil disobedience".
Seeking to rise above these disputes, President Ramaphosa has emphasised the dangers - already seen in other countries - of a "second wave" of infections.
Looming over all these concerns and considerations is the key issue of South Africa's own health system and whether it can contain the viral spikes that many experts now believe are approaching, and whether the crucial weeks of extra time gained by the government's initial Dunkirk strategy have been put to good enough use to turn the tide in the Stalingrad battles that may yet lie ahead.
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