South Africa's 57 million people entered into a Martial law-style lockdown for three weeks starting on Friday, a move by the government that would hopefully flatten the pandemic curve and slowdown infections, so the hospital system does not become overwhelmed by virus patients, reported AFP.
The country's Department of Health announced two COVID-19 deaths to end the week, with total confirmed cases above 1,000. South Africa has administered 20,000 tests so far, as officials fear the outbreak could be much more extensive than previously thought because of the lack of test kits.
The lockdown of South Africa is the first time the government has stripped the basic freedoms of its citizens since it became a democracy in 1994.
"The law is that you stay at home. The exception is for survival: food [and] health, with security forces making sure that the law is enforced," government minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said.
The sale of alcohol and cigarettes has been banned for three weeks, along with any outdoor activity such as jogging, walking dogs, and or going to the park. The government warned that offenders would be prosecuted and either fined or jailed.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday. He visited troops at a military base in Soweto township outside Johannesburg before they launched deployments across the country.
"I send you out to go and defend our people against coronavirus," Ramaphosa said.
"This is unprecedented, not only in our democracy but also in the history of our country, that we will have a lockdown for 21 days to go out and wage war against an invisible enemy coronavirus," he said.
With South Africa now at war, not with a neighboring country but rather a virus that is starting to ravage its population, here is what the battlefield looks like, courtesy of Twitter:
Cyril, you better come and fix this immediately. I hope this soldier will not be serving in the military anymore. This is absolutely horrific, that's a soldier assaulting citizens. #COVID19 #COVID19SouthAfrica #SouthAfrica pic.twitter.com/Iv4HI14AjH— Erik Thiart (@ErikThiart) March 27, 2020
Mozambique is a military state, we live in a country where the military is always around. Says a lot about freedom of expression..— anicha abdul (@AbdulAnicha) March 25, 2020
Now our neighbours, South Africa only unleashes the army when it’s needed!. And when they do, they do😳#covid19 #stayhome #southafrica pic.twitter.com/r1htd08hci
South Africa's military has begun enforcing a #coronavirus lockdown, which includes bans on alcohol sales and even dog-walking.— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) March 27, 2020
Over 1,000 #COVID19 cases and 2 deaths have been confirmed pic.twitter.com/lanbMFw2hb
pic.twitter.com/P1QSXU1awU South Africa: came under a nationwide military-patrolled lockdown on Friday, joining other African countries imposing strict curfews and shutdowns in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus across the continent— Covid-19 Global Updates (@global_covid) March 27, 2020
We have warned on several occasions, "It's Time To Stop Pretending That In All Of Africa There's Only 3 Covid-19 Cases" and "'A Ticking Time Bomb': Coronavirus Crisis Looms In Africa." The Martial law-style lockdown by South Africa suggest the virus crisis is much worse than what is being reported.