The president said he was encouraged by the reactions of South Africans to the measures government had already introduced last Sunday to limit the spread.
There were, however, concerns that the rapid spread of the disease in both South Africa and the rest of the world required more stringent measures.
“Our analysis of the progress of the epidemic informs us we need to urgently increase our response.” He said it would just take a few weeks to reach hundreds of thousands of infected people, since South Africa had millions of people with HIV and TB and high levels of poor nutrition.
“Those countries that have acted swiftly have been far more effective.”
He said the nationwide lockdown would be in place for three weeks from Thursday, it was intended to save lives, even though it would come at a heavy cost to the economy.
“Our fundamental task is to curb the rapid spread of the disease. We must do everything to delay the spread of the infection.”
“From midnight on Thursday until 16 April, all South Africans will have to stay at home.”
Only certain people would be allowed to go out in particular circumstances, including for medical care and to do essential shopping.
“Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strict circumstances. Firms that can continue operations remotely must do so.”
He said the SA National Defence Force would be deployed to support the police.
The focus would be on high-density and high-risk areas.
Emergency water supplies were being provided to informal settlements and rural areas.
He said government and the business sector would announce and implement measures to offset and allay the economic difficulties that the lockdown would cause.
People from high-risk countries would be confined to their hotel until they had completed a 14-day quarantine.
“Firstly, we are supporting the vulnerable. We have set up a solidarity fund [which people can contribute to.” Gloria Serobe would chair the fund. The fund already had seed capital of R250 million.
The fund will also have a board of “eminent South Africans” and the website for donations can be found here.
Ramaphosa applauded the Rupert and Oppenheimer families for pledging R1 billion each to support the country.
The president said it was essential that panic buying was still unnecessary and stockpiling was not needed, as there would be a steady supply of goods to stores.
This is a developing story.
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