President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed South Africans on Thursday evening the 23rd of July regarding the national COVID-19 crisis. The National Lockdown that started on the 26th of March is still in full effect, and we are currently (24th of July) on lockdown day 120. We are on lockdown level 3 and are approaching the projected Coronavirus peak.

We currently stand on 408 052 positive cases, 236 260 recoveries and 6 093 deaths. President Ramaphosa addressed mainly two issues in his 23rd of July speech; namely, the closure of schools and the management of Coronavirus resources.

Closure of schools: 

Ramaphosa announced that all public schools to close for four weeks as the country braces for the projected surge in Coronavirus infections. The break will be from the 27th of July until 24th of August – with a few exceptions:

  • Grade 12 learners will only take a one week break from now, and return on the 3rd of August.
  • Grade 7 learners will have a two-week break from now and will return on the 10th of August.
  • Special considerations will be made for special needs schools.

The president states that the academic year will extend beyond 2020; further details of this will follow.

Management of resources:  

The president speaks on what the R500 billion package did to help fight the Coronavirus pandemic in our country. The package assisted in three main areas in the Coronavirus fight; the health response to COVID-19, hunger relief for individuals and households, and to accommodate companies in distress.

‘For the months of April, May and June, the UIF’s special COVID-19 benefit has paid out R34 billion, helping over seven-and-a-half million workers and preventing retrenchments in a number of companies.’ Cyril Ramaphosa

The president also states that thus far the fund has provided companies with over R70 billion in tax relief. He also adds plans to: 

  • Extend UIF relief scheme by six weeks
  • Provide special assistance to tourism, sports and creative industries
  • County will undertake special audits to detect and prevent misuse of funds

The provinces that are experiencing a rapid rise in infections are Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The Western Cape is seemingly levelling-off and, although we need to remain cautious, it appears that peak infections in the province may have come and gone. The glimmer of hope is also that South Africa has the lowest COVID-19 fatality rate in the world.

Watch the full speech below: