TIMELINE: South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic

TIMELINE: South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic

Many parts of the world will spend the festive season under lockdown as the globe continues to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A South African National Defence Force (SANDF) patrol is seen in Eldorado Park on March 30, 2020. South Africa came under a nationwide lockdown on March 27, 2020, joining other African countries imposing strict curfews and shutdowns in an attempt to halt

South Africa is no exception. 

The country’s first confirmed case was reported by Department of Health officials on March 5. 

At the time, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize revealed details of how a group of 10 people who had returned to SA from a ski trip in Italy had been the source of the initial infections. 

Patient zero self-quarantined in his KwaZulu-Natal home as the number of cases began to surge and restrictions became tighter.  

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the outbreak a National State of Disaster and placed the country under lockdown – the economy came to a standstill, with the exception of essential services. 

Tobacco products, alcohol, cooked foods, baby clothes and vanity products were off the shelves. 

But some industries bemoaned the unconstitutionality and irrationality of the ban on sales and government faced ongoing litigation. 

The academic calendar also suffered a blow after a lengthy closure of schools and universities. 

As the country faced a bleak winter, government coffers were also crippled by the alleged siphoning of Covid-19 funds.  

The country hit a peak in Covid-19 cases in July before infections started to slow. 

As the pandemic progressed, restrictions were eased, and parts of the economy were reopened. 

By September, almost all industries were functional again, but the South African economy struggled to recover.  

As predicted, the country experienced another surge in cases. 

In December, Mkhize announced a second wave of infections.  

A new variant of the virus was also discovered along the coastline and new hotspots were declared.  

Even amid the scourge of the pandemic, government vowed to pick up the economic pieces. 

Eight months into the lockdown, Ramaphosa remained optimistic that the country’s “reconstruction and recovery phase is a phase and period which is pregnant with great possibility, which is full of promise and opportunity”.

Nine months on, the country has close to 1 million cumulative cases


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