President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media during a visit to the Rand Water head office in Johannesburg on April 7 2020. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media during a visit to the Rand Water head office in Johannesburg on April 7 2020. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government is still assessing the effectiveness of the 21-day national lockdown implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“We will do a proper scientific assessment in a few days time to see how well this lockdown is serving the people of the country,” he said in response to a question on whether the lockdown will be extended.

The lockdown is due to come to an end on April 16.

It is intended to curb local transmission of the coronavirus, which has spread to all nine provinces. As of Tuesday afternoon, the total number of reported Covid-19 cases stood at 1,749, with 13 reported deaths.

The lockdown imposes tight restrictions on the movement of people, who are expected to stay at home except for shopping for essentials, such as food and medicines, seeking healthcare or collecting social grants.

The coronavirus has caused panic and fear across the globe and brought many economies, including SA’s, to a standstill.

Ramaphosa, who was speaking to the media after visiting the water and sanitation Covid-19 command centre at Rand Water in Johannesburg, said that though the lockdown has negatively effected the economy, it is important to save lives.

“The economy is going to take a real knock and we will come up with strategies on how we can re-engineer our economy and get it to move forward, but lives matter ... that is why I continue to say let us take these regulations seriously,” he said.

Ramaphosa said if SA had not gone into lockdown, the infection rate would be much higher than it is .

“The lockdown has been one of those important measures we have used to save lives, to contain the spread of the pandemic. From that side alone we were correct in locking down our country and many other countries are following suit,” he said.

Ramaphosa said many South Africans around the country are abiding by the lockdown and its regulations, but there are pockets of people who are still going on with their lives as if there was no coronavirus.

“We want to say to these people ... this is a serious, serious disease affecting people throughout the world and we, as South Africans, must take it seriously. We Must abide by the regulations.”

quintalg@businesslive.co.za