My fellow South Africans,
It is a week since we declared the coronavirus pandemic a national disaster and announced a package of extraordinary measures to combat this grave public health emergency.
The response of the South African people to this crisis has been remarkable. Millions of our people have understood the gravity of the situation. Most South Africans have accepted the restrictions that have been placed on their lives and have taken responsibility for changing their behaviour.
I am heartened that every sector of society has been mobilised and has accepted the role that it needs to play. From religious leaders to sporting associations, from political parties to business
people, from trade unions to traditional leaders, from NGOs to public servants, every part of our society has come forward to confront this challenge.
Many have had to make difficult choices and sacrifices, but all have been determined that these choices and sacrifices are absolutely necessary if our country is to emerge stronger from this disaster.
Over the past week, South Africans have demonstrated their determination, their sense of purpose, their sense of community and their sense of responsibility.
For this, we salute you and we thank you.
On behalf of the nation, I would also like to thank the health workers, our doctors, nurses and paramedics who are on the frontline of the pandemic, our teachers, border officials, police and traffic officers and all the other people who have been leading our response.
Since the national state of disaster was declared, we have put in place a range of regulations and directives.
These regulations have restricted international travel, prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people, closed schools and other educational institutions and restricted the sale of alcohol after 6pm.
We reiterate that the most effective way to prevent infection is through basic changes in individual behaviour and hygiene. We are therefore once more calling on everyone to:
– wash hands frequently with hand sanitisers or soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
– cover our nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow;
– avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
Everyone must do everything within their means to avoid contact with other people. Staying at home, avoiding public places and cancelling all social activities is the preferred best defence against the virus.
Over the past week, as we have been implementing these measures, the global crisis has deepened.