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South Africa reports first COVID-19 deaths

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South Africa suffered its first two coronavirus fatalities on Friday, 27 March 2020 – hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa had sent troops into the streets to supervise the start of a tough 21-day lockdown.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Friday that the two patients were from the Western Cape Province – one at a public hospital and the other at a private hospital.

“This morning, we wake South Africans up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from COVID-19,” Mkhize said.

The Minister also said that the country’s number of coronavirus cases in the country had breached the one thousand mark overnight, leaving the southern African state with the largest number of such cases in Africa.

South Africa, pronounced as “a state of national disaster” last week, began its three-week national lockdown at midnight on Thursday in a robust effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Clad in camouflage, Commander-in-Chief Ramaphosa took to the streets Thursday night to encourage the troops, who are assisting the police in reinforcing the lockdown, to give confidence to the population – and not to let them feel threatened by their presence.

The message from the president’s military uniform was clear: South Africa is at war against COVID-19 and failure is not an option.

South Africa registered its first cases of the pandemic in early March after a group of South Africans who returned home after spending their holidays in Italy showed signs of the virus.


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