JOHANNESBURG: South African businesses braced for a nationwide lockdown and panic buyers stockpiled food and other essentials on Tuesday as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases jumped to 554 from 402 a day earlier. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the 21-day lockdown from midnight on Thursday in an address to the nation on Monday, saying Africa’s most advanced economy needed to escalate its response to curb the spread of the respiratory pandemic. South Africa has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in sub-Saharan Africa, and public health experts are worried that the virus could overwhelm the health system if infection rates rise steeply. Ramaphosa deployed the army in the streets, ordered underground mines to suspend operations and confined tourists who had arrived recently from “high-risk” countries to their hotels – some of the toughest measures on the continent. Rwanda has also imposed severe restrictions on movement, including “non-essential movements outside the home”. Many analysts have praised Ramaphosa for acting swiftly to impose restrictions on movement before the virus has claimed any lives, drawing on the experience of badly affected countries in Europe and Asia. “The numbers, we mustn’t be shocked when we see them increase. But these measures if we… Read full this story
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