South Africa to go into nationwide lockdown from Thursday

South Africa to go into nationwide lockdown from Thursday

WATCH: South Africa Announces 21 Day National Lockdown Over Coronavirus

South Africa's Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Monday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had risen to 402, a jump of 128 since Sunday's announcement that could worry public health experts concerned about the country's readiness to deal with the epidemic.

Certain categories of people will be exempted including health workers, those in the production and delivery of food and essential products, and others.

Firms that are able to continue their operations remotely should do so. The ban will end at midnight on April 15 whereafter it is hoped the country will have delayed the proliferation of the COVID-19 virus, a process known as "flattening the curve".

The lockdown is effective March 26 at midnight.

The banking sector led the fallers down 9.89%. The provision of coal to Eskom, the state-owned power utility, is crucial to the generation of electricity identified as essential by Ramaphosa in terms of "the maintenance of power".

"Afterwards, a meeting of the National Command Council will consider regulations on our current state of disaster, and other measures to protect the country".

Meanwhile, the South African National Defence Force on Sunday said that it would be deploying troops to help in the fight against the virus.

Ramaphosa, a former labour activist turned tycoon who took power in 2018 and won an election past year, also announced an increase in screening and testing for the disease, and the establishment of a solidarity fund.

"Provision will be made for essential transport services to continue, including transport for essential staff & for patients who need to be managed elsewhere".

The Oppenheimer family, whose wealth stems from the country's long-standing diamond industry, would contribute R1bn in relief to the small business sector.

South Africans will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled conditions to buy food, medicine or collect their social grant.

Despite the considerable impact this will have on people's livelihoods and the economy, Ramaphosa stressed that "the human cost of delaying would be far greater". The platinum price was about 30% stronger in the last three hours on a day in which most commodities had a better day.

At 1510 GMT, the rand traded 1.08% weaker at R17.7200 per dollar, after hitting a high of R17.5800 earlier in the session as it edged closer to an all-time worst level of R17.9950 in 2015.

Fed takes major action to support markets as coronavirus weighs on economy
Chelsea's Rudiger Fighting coronavirus more important than Premier League restart