South African President Cyril Ramaphosa urged citizens to remain careful and adapt to measures necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic as confirmed infections in the country breached 500,000.
“We must maintain our vigilance until we have no more coronavirus cases in our country,” Ramaphosa said in a statement published on the presidency website. “If we do not do so, there is the risk of a resurgence in those areas where the virus has now begun to stabilize.”
With 503,290 confirmed Covid-19 cases and more than 8,000 fatalities, South Africa is the worst-hit country on the continent. The stabilization of a daily increase in infections in the province of Gauteng, which includes the economic hub of Johannesburg, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape suggests that prevention measures are having an effect, he said.
Additional equipment and personnel are being deployed to areas experiencing an increase in infections and a team led by South Africa’s Biovac Institute is preparing to produce doses of a successful vaccine locally, Ramaphosa said.
South Africa imposed a lockdown that shuttered almost all economic activity for five weeks from March 27. While most businesses were allowed to resume operations from May 1 under strict conditions, the restrictions are weighing on output. The government expects the economy to contract 7.2% this year.
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