clearn.png
Tuesday April 7th, 2020 9:39PM

'Terrified' South Africa nears lockdown; cases almost 1,000

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's president appeared in full military uniform for the first time since the end of apartheid and urged troops to be a “force of kindness” as a three-week lockdown begins at midnight and they ensure that 57 million people stay home. The country leads Africa with nearly 1,000 coronavirus cases.

“Our people are terrified right now and we should not do anything to make their situation worse,” President Cyril Ramaphosa told police earlier in the day. “Psychologically they are already scared that they could get the virus, lose income, lose jobs, get sick without medication.”

Anxiety has been especially high for low-income South Africans squeezed into townships, sometimes with an extended family sharing a shack of corrugated metal and little income. Fears of an increase in domestic violence and rape have been expressed by civil society groups. And economic pain is widespread, with a recession and unemployment at 29%. South Africa remains one of the world's most unequal countries a quarter-century after the racist apartheid system ended in 1994.

“I have even resorted to selling face masks so as I can be able to raise money and return to my homeland outside (Johannesburg),” said street vendor Dinko Seroka, as people lined up to take buses to more rural areas. “As you can see here, everyone is leaving for their homelands, and if I stay behind I don’t know how I’m going to survive.”

South Africa has 927 virus cases, with no reported deaths. Africa’s total cases are now 3,037 with South Africa’s latest cases added to the toll of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Forty-six of the continent’s 54 countries have the virus.

South Africa’s lockdown is one of the world’s strictest, with alcohol sales, running and dog-walking banned. Citizens should expect to be sober for 21 days, authorities have said, but sales at liquor stores were brisk on Thursday. Borders have closed except for transport of essential goods.

Without naming countries, the World Health Organization regional chief for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, told reporters that “draconian” restrictions must include strong public health measures to truly contain the virus’ spread. Humanitarian corridors might be needed as well, she said.

The window is “narrowing every day” but there's still a chance to contain the virus' spread in many countries, Moeti said. About half of African nations with the virus have only imported cases from abroad.

More countries are expected to impose lockdowns. On Thursday, the president of Botswana, who has been in self-isolation as a precaution after a weekend trip to Namibia, told citizens to “Please prepare yourselves" for an imminent one.

Rwanda locked down over the weekend, and police denied that two people shot dead had been killed for defying the new measures. Police spokesman John Bosco Kabera said the two were riding a motorbike on Monday in the south when they were stopped by an officer and attacked him, prompting his colleague to fire in self-defense.

In Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, streets were empty while authorities used megaphones to urge people to stay indoors. The government has promised to provide food to vulnerable people.

“I ask our government to please have a good heart for your people during these difficult times,” shopper Jacqueline Murekatete said as officers wearing face masks and gloves instructed people at a market how to stand in line.

“We need to eat and we are desperate for your help. Now we have two pandemics. We have hunger and we have the coronavirus, and our hunger is the new pandemic we are faced with. This is just dreadful.”

In Uganda, police with guns and sticks enforced a new two-week ban on public transport. Gunfire rang out in one street in the capital, Kampala, as officers chased people and roughed up suspects accused of defying the president’s orders.

Elsewhere, Nigeria said it would ban travel between its states in Africa’s most populous country. Eritrea closed schools and public transport. Kenya reported its first death. And Somalia, with one of the world’s most fragile health systems after nearly three decades of conflict, reported its second virus case.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

African officials have showed varying levels of sensitivity to their own health measures. While South Africa’s president said he tested negative for the virus as a precaution, some people in Kenya were appalled after national health officials met to discuss the coronavirus and then shared a group photo — with people standing shoulder-to-shoulder.

___

Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda; Ignatius Ssuuna in Kigali, Rwanda and Cara Anna in Johannesburg contributed.

___

Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
IndyCar goes virtual racing as it waits to get back on track
IndyCar remains in limbo as to when its season can start because of the coronavirus pandemic
4:48PM ( 12 minutes ago )
US indicts Venezuela's Maduro on narcoterrorism charges
The U.S. Justice Department has indicted Venezuela's socialist leader Nicolás Maduro and several key aides on charges of narcoterrorism
4:45PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Indianapolis 500 postponed until August because of COVID-19
The Indianapolis 500 scheduled for May 24 has been postponed until August because of the coronavirus pandemic
4:44PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Coronavirus death toll in France nears 1,700
France’s virus death toll is continuing to climb fast, increasing 27% in one day Thursday to 1,696 victims, including a 16-year-old
3:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
Half-million infected worldwide as economic toll rises
The human and economic toll of the lockdowns against the coronavirus mounted Thursday as India struggled to feed the multitudes, Italy shut down most of its industry, and a record-shattering 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in a single week
3:29PM ( 1 hour ago )
What you need to know today about the virus outbreak
The number of people around the world who have contracted coronavirus has reached 500,000, and U.S. deaths from the pandemic have now topped 1,000
3:22PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
The Latest: Arsenal manager fully recovered from virus
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he's fully recovered from the coronavirus, two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19
4:06PM ( 53 minutes ago )
US could get stake in airlines in exchange for virus grants
The Trump administration is raising the possibility of the U.S. government getting ownership stakes in U.S. airlines in exchange for billions in direct grants to help the carriers survive a downturn cause
4:05PM ( 54 minutes ago )
Bill Bartholomay, who moved Braves to Atlanta, dies at 91
Former Braves owner Bill Bartholomay, who moved the franchise from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, has died
3:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
IndyCar goes virtual racing as it waits to get back on track
IndyCar remains in limbo as to when its season can start because of the coronavirus pandemic
4:48PM ( 12 minutes ago )
US indicts Venezuela's Maduro on narcoterrorism charges
The U.S. Justice Department has indicted Venezuela's socialist leader Nicolás Maduro and several key aides on charges of narcoterrorism
4:45PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Indianapolis 500 postponed until August because of COVID-19
The Indianapolis 500 scheduled for May 24 has been postponed until August because of the coronavirus pandemic
4:44PM ( 15 minutes ago )
The Latest: Cardinals Chandler Jones donating 150,000 meals
Arizona Cardinals All-Pro linebacker Chandler Jones is donating 150,000 meals to food banks in Arizona and his hometown of Endicott, New York, to help families dealing with the coronavirus pandemic
4:43PM ( 16 minutes ago )
The Latest: 8 countries want sanctions lifted to fight virus
Eight countries under unilateral sanctions have urged U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday to request the immediate and complete lifting of these measures to enable the nations to respond to the coronavirus pandemic
4:20PM ( 39 minutes ago )