President Cyril Ramaphosa says the number of Coronavirus infected people in South Africa is likely to pass 50 000 this week, and we will record the 1000th death.

In Ramaphosa’s weekly newsletter to the country on Monday morning, he expressed his concern with rising figures. Citizens must bear in the mind these numbers were predicted in various projected models but seeing it unravel is unnerving.

He noted that the lockdown had, however, done its job, allowing the country to delay the spread and better prepare health facilities for what lies ahead.

“The lockdown was not only necessary but it has also given us all time to adjust to living with the virus. Various surveys show that South Africans have come to know a lot about the virus and are taking the necessary precautions to prevent its spread. I have been pleased to realise that a high percentage of South Africans wash their hands regularly, avoid contact with other people and wear face masks whenever they go out in public. I should however say that social distancing in public places is still a major challenge for us. We need to focus our attention on ensuring that we adhere to social distancing practices because it is through close contact between people that the virus will be spread,” he added.

As businesses and other institution return to work with more-or-less normal activity, he reminded them to take stringent health protocols seriously.

The president also wrote about the work being done in the Western Cape to manage the spread of the disease in South Africa’s epicentre.

“I was impressed by the preparations the Western Cape is making to contain infections and to ensure that there are enough beds, staff and medical supplies to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of people needing hospitalisation. They are increasing the number of beds by setting up field hospitals, including at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.”

More beds will be needed in the Western Cape as the virus is yet to reach its peak.

“After the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape is the province with the fastest-growing proportion of people infected. And we know that some of the infections in the province were the result of people travelling from the Western Cape. What this tells us is that no part of the country is an island and that all South Africans, no matter where they live, need to remain vigilant and prepared. It is for this reason also that people are not permitted to travel between provinces while the country is at alert level 3, except under specific circumstances and with the necessary permits,” wrote the president.

Ramaphosa assured South Africans that the number of cases was cause for concern but not alarm, as the country has the power to manage the impact of the disease.

“As we have shown, we can slow the spread of the disease, and we should continue to take all measures possible to continue to flatten the infection curve. Most importantly, we must be prepared to reduce the number of deaths by implementing the necessary health measures,” he stated.

In ending his letter to the nation, Ramaphosa encouraged each and every individual to do what they can to change their habits for the better during the epidemic and look at ways to support the elderly in each community as well as those with underlying diseases.

“Over the coming weeks, as we watch the coronavirus infections continue to rise, we must remember that we are not helpless. And we should remember one simple, but fundamental, message: Don’t be alarmed. Be prepared,” he concluded.

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