COMMENTS BY MINISTER EBRAHIM PATEL AT A BRIEFING TO THE PRESS AFTER THE FIRST DAY OF THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN, FRIDAY, 27 MARCH 2020.
Today has been Day One of an unprecedented event in South Africa. The start of the first ever lockdown.
There are four key things which we’ve seen today:
The first is the seriousness of the challenge with a significant rise in the infection rate with more than a thousand people now positive, and our first deaths; The second we have seen enormous levels of cooperation by tens of thousands of South Africans who have followed the call by the President to stay at home. We have seen major cities which have been empty. We have seen office blocks which have been disserted and we would like to thank fellow South Africans for that.
The third thing is that we have seen evidence of the State putting mechanisms in place across the country: the police; the army; but also critical and essential public services that have been mobilised at very short notice.
Finally we have seen some challenges and glitches as one would expect from this major and massive mobilisation of resources across the nation and we will be addressing these as we refine our approach, and as we implement the lockdown over the remain period.
On the economy as a whole, most of the economy shut down today with the exception of essential services and while we had reports of companies who stayed open who were not essential services, these were relatively small exceptions. Most companies in those sectors of the economy that are not essential services obeyed the call of the President. Workers and employers stood together in enabling people to stay at home.