A Higher percentage of South Africans could have died from the coronavirus if the government had not imposed the national lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday night.
He was speaking during the second virtual presidential imbizo, which is aimed at engaging with communities on the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on society.
More than 300 000 South Africans have been infected with the virus and around 4 500 deaths have been linked to the deadly pandemic.
“The spate of infections would have been a lot higher and many more people could have died. It is acknowledged that the lockdown did help and indeed as we can see many lockdowns around the world are also helping to reduce the height of infection.
“It also gave us an opportunity to prepare our health facilities to be able to deal and cope with the rising infections,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the 49% recovery rate was impressive, but urged South Africans to obey imposed regulations as they were aimed at protecting people from getting infected.
He also weighed in on the call by teacher unions on the closure of schools ahead of the peak of the virus as more teachers and learners were being infected.
Ramaphosa said his administration was looking for ways in which it could continue assisting citizens who lost jobs as the result of the economic damage that was caused by the lockdown imposed in March and which saw many businesses being forced to shut down until last month.
He reiterated that SA’s main defence against the virus was the change of behaviour by individuals.
“Let us protect ourselves as we protect those we love because it is only when we do so that we will be able to defeat Covid-19,” he said.