JOHANNESBURG - The rise of coronavirus cases in South Africa has prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce tough measures to try to slow the virus’ spread. The respiratory illness, now a global pandemic, has infected more than 153,000 people worldwide since it was first reported in China at the end of 2019. Since South Africa reported its first case on March 5, the nation’s burden has risen to at least 62 confirmed cases, with the World Health Organization classifying it a as a country with local transmission.
“We have decided to take urgent and drastic measures to manage the disease, protect the people of our country, and to reduce the impact of the virus on our society and on our economy,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address Sunday night. “We have now declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act. This will enable us to have an integrated and coordinated disaster management mechanism that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak of this virus."
South Africa’s government this past weekend repatriated 114 citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak started. The citizens will be kept in quarantine for three weeks, although none has tested positive for the virus.
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