South Africa will go into lockdown for 21 days from midnight on Thursday.
The country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday in a televised national address that the National Command Team on the coronavirus said this was a necessary step to contain the spread of global pandemic.
South Africans would have to “stay at home” until midnight on April 16 2020.
Ramaphosa said essential services personnel would be the only ones exempted, including police, healthcare workers and those involved in the supply of goods, including food.
“We must do everything in our means to delay the spread of infection over a long period. It is essential that every person should adhere strictly to the regulations and measures we are announcing,” said Ramaphosa.
“The next few days are crucial. Without decisive action the number of infected people will increase.”
He was addressing the nation on the government’s interventions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
Earlier on Monday, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had risen to 402.
During his address, Ramaphosa announced that the Rupert and Oppenheimer families had pledged R1bn each towards the fight against COVID-19 in SA.
The president further announced the setting up of a solidarity fund, wherein all businesses and private individuals were urged to make donations. The fund, said Ramaphosa, will account fully for every cent donated and publish statement in its website.
“The fund will complement what we are doing in the public sector. It will be chaired by Ms Gloria Serobe,” the President said. “Anyone can begin to deposit funds into this account acting in solidarity with South Africans. “It will fully account for every cent contributed and publish details on its website.”
He lauded the Ruperts and Oppenheimers for their donation.
“We must applaud the commitment that has been made by Rupert and Oppenheimer of R1bn each to support victims affected by coronavirus,” he said.