President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had brought about great uncertainty for many South Africans as citizens were worried about their wellbeing, families, and their livelihoods.
In his official Easter message during an online Good Friday liturgy led by the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, the president said the measures government took to contain the spread of COVID-19 – like the declaration of a national state of disaster and the imposition of a national lockdown, among others – would ensure that “we will be able to turn things around”.
“This is a time for great uncertainty for all of us. Many of us are anxious about our health and the health of our children. We worry about how we will be able to make ends meet or if we will have jobs to go back to,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa’s address followed his announcement on Thursday night that the nationwide lockdown would be extended by a further two weeks until 30 April.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic was “a time of great trial for our country” with the poor and business owners hardest-hit by its devastating effects.
“The poorest people in our country worry about where their next meal is going to come from, our young people are unsure that they will be able to finish their studies or graduate. Business owners are counting the cost of the closures and what it will mean for them and those who depend on them to earn a living. Many people in our country feel vulnerable. Others feel frustrated and powerless. And indeed, many are afraid,” Ramaphosa said.
#COVID19 | President @CyrilRamaphosa and Dr Tshepo Motsepe, First Lady of the Republic, join the virtual #GoodFriday Liturgy led by the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town His Grace Thabo Makgoba from their home in Johannesburg. #Day15ofLockdown pic.twitter.com/NoaYOpN4kV— Presidency | South Africa ?? (@PresidencyZA) April 10, 2020
NUMBER OF DEATHS INCREASE
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Friday announced that the total number of COVID-19 infections in the country was at 2,003 with 24 confirmed deaths. The minister said 73,028 people had been tested so far and that there were 410 people who had recovered from the virus.
Ramaphosa said government had the “utmost confidence” that the national state of disaster and the lockdown were “correct and absolutely necessary”.
“Since the lockdown began, the rate of identified new cases has slowed. Together with other measures, like closing our borders and putting on an end to public gatherings, we are seeing progress,” he said.
Despite the challenges faced by many in the country during this period, the president said South Africans were resilient people.
“We endure the worst and we have indeed in the past endured the worst excesses of a dark past, but we emerged united and strong. The virtues of courage, optimism, and compassion carried us along the path to freedom. And they are what have sustained us in the past and will continue to sustain us,” Ramaphosa said.
‘VIRTUE OF SACRIFICE’
As Christians recalled and recounted the life of Christ on Good Friday, the president said South Africans should also remember the greatest virtue of all – that of sacrifice. He said the message of Easter was one of hope, recovery, triumph, and rebirth.
“Despite the heavy burden that has been placed on our people over the past two weeks, we’ve understood that for the greater good these sacrifices have to be made. Our people have endured the extreme restrictions on their daily lives with patience and fortitude,” he said.
Ramaphosa appealed to South Africans to continue observing social distancing and proper hygiene.
“If we continue to scale up detection and testing to ensure those who need medical care get it, we will be able to turn things around,” he said.
The president also said the faith community had played a vital role in supporting government’s efforts to contain the spread of the novel disease.
“And for this, we thank each and every one of you in the faith community,” Ramaphosa said.
“It has not been easy. Worshipping in congregation is a source of strength and comfort to many. It has been hard for those who lost loved ones to be unable to attend their burials. Couples wishing to marry have had to postpone their plans, but you have endured with patience and for this we thank you,” he added.