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President engages SANEF on COVID-19 response

4 June 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa has, in a virtual meeting on Sunday, engaged with members of the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) on the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting took place at a time when the country and the rest of the world are immersed in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the meeting, the President engaged editors on South Africa’s ongoing measures to manage the spread of COVID-19 through the risk-adjusted strategy.

The President commended the media in South Africa for its contribution to the national effort to confront the crisis, which has helped to inform and empower South Africans, stimulate public debate and promote accountability.

“The media has had to fulfil this role under the difficult conditions of lockdown, which has required new ways of working and reaching readers, listeners and viewers. This, at a time when most media organisations are no doubt facing financial challenges.

“Like so many others in society, journalists have certainly played their part in this momentous struggle to overcome the Coronavirus pandemic, and continue to do so,” said President Ramaphosa.

With the country in alert level 3 of lockdown from 1 June, President Ramaphosa said South the country should expect an exponential rise in cases.

“We need to deploy all the means at our disposal to continue to flatten the curve. We have strengthened our public health interventions,” he said.

Since government began community screening, over 13 million individuals have been screened, and 188 000 of these have been referred for testing.

As people return to work, school and study under level 3, President Ramaphosa said government is looking to significantly expand the screening effort to all places where people congregate.

However, with such a high proportion of asymptomatic cases, the President emphasised that screening must be complemented with a range of other preventative measures.

President Ramaphosa acknowledged that contact tracing remains an area of weakness in the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are currently identifying on average two contacts for each confirmed case, whereas countries like South Korea have been identifying around 20 contacts per case,” he said.

Preparing for the peak

However, strides are being made to prepare for the COVID-19 peak in the country.

To date, over 27 000 beds in the public sector have been allocated to COVID-19 patients. The field hospitals that are currently being constructed will have around 13 000 beds.

With the assistance of various governments, companies and foundations, government has been able to mobilise significant quantities of personal protection equipment, other medical supplies and ventilators.

“Our attention has not been limited only to South Africa, but we have been working with other leaders to ensure that Africa has the resources it needs.

“I have been in discussion with President Xi Jinping of China to secure diagnostic supplies, including 30 million testing kits, 10 000 ventilators and 80 million masks per month for our continent,” said the President.

This week, government is set to receive a supply of one million masks from Huawei.

Local production ramped up

As the country gradually reopens the economy, with level 3 being the most significant reopening, government is also looking to ramp up local production to boost the country’s economy.

“We are working to grow local production through our work with different industries in the country and through the support we are providing through the IDC, National Empowerment Fund and others.

“Companies across the country have repurposed some of the production capacity to supply the country with alcohol for hand sanitisers, face shields and masks, ventilators and other essential medical supplies,” said the President.

In an effort to rebuild the economy, government is also looking to accelerate structural reforms, promote localisation and industrialisation, repurpose State-owned enterprises and strengthen the informal sector. –




February/March 2020

















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