President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended the lockdown period by two weeks as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases increased to 1934 on Thursday.
The president applauded the efforts of health workers in the country and thanked South Africans for complying with the stringent regulations of the lockdown. He said that early indications were that the decision to place the country under lockdown has helped to slow the spread of the virus.
“We are determined to pursue a path that both saves lives and protects livelihoods,” the president said as he stressed that the decion to extend the lockdown was not taken lightly.
The president said there were 1,934 cases of Covid-19 in South Africa on Thursday and the lockdown had slowed down the rate of increase, which he said "does represent real progress".
Ramaphosa said that if government ended the lockdown too soon, the progress gained would be lost. He called on South Africans to be willing to endure another 14 days.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and the deputy president, as well as their ministers and deputy ministers, will take a one-third cut in their salaries for the next three months.
This portion of their salaries will be donated to the Solidarity Fund.
“The premiers of our provinces have also joined in and will take a one-third pay cut and donate that the Solidarity Fund,” the president said.
"You have understood that we must do everything in our power to prevent the massive loss of life that would occur if we did not act. For your cooperation, for your commitment and above all for your patience, I wish to thank you personally."
He called on the country to make an even greater sacrifice to save thousands of lives, though he acknowledged the harm that was happening in the economy.
The president said the coronavirus crisis had worsened over the past two weeks, particularly worldwide, with health systems "overwhelmed".
"Two weeks ago, there were 340,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the world. We now have over 1.5 million confirmed cases worldwide. Over 90,000 people across the world have died from this disease."
He said the decision to institute the lockdown had been "correct and timely" and "there is sufficient evidence to show that the lockdown is working".
The average daily increase had dropped to just 4% because of the lockdown.
"We are only at the beginning of a monumental struggle that demands our every resource and our every effort. We cannot relax. We cannot be complacent. The measures we have taken – such as closing our borders and prohibiting gatherings – and the changes that we have each had to make in our own behaviour, have definitely slowed the spread. But the struggle against the coronavirus is far from over."
Ramaphosa said that in the coming weeks and months, "we must massively increase the extent of our response and expand the reach of our interventions".
The president's address followed a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council held yesterday, 8 April 2020 and consultations that the president held during the course of the day with various social partners during the course of the day.