The total number of South African coronavirus cases now exceeds 400, increasing fears that an even more widespread outbreak could potentially be disastrous for the nation’s strained healthcare system. COVID-19 was first confirmed in South Africa on March 5 and the country currently has the most cases of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa.
On March 15, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster and announced actions to contain the virus’s spread. These measures include canceling visas for foreigners from high-risk countries like the US, China, Italy, Iran and South Korea; school closures and a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people. Most of the country’s seaports have shut down and more than half of South Africa’s border crossings also have been closed.
In a nation that has one of the highest levels of economic inequality in the world, many South Africans rely on a public health system that is already overburdened. One of the country’s biggest concerns is if COVID-19 begins spreading in impoverished townships and slums – areas where access to clean water for hand washing is scarce and self-quarantine practices would be difficult.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at what South Africa is doing in response to coronavirus.