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Infectious Diseases

Updated 16 March 2020

Coronavirus in SA: Change your behaviour, president pleads with South Africans

In a bid to minimise the spread of the new coronavirus, President Cyril Ramaphosa pleads with South Africans to change their behaviour, increase personal hygiene and to stop spreading fake news.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday has called on South Africans to change their behaviour as the country fights the spread of the new coronavirus.

In his address to the nation, the president stressed the importance of good hygiene and changed behaviour to avoid spreading the virus.

"We are undertaking a mass communication campaign on good hygiene and effective prevention behaviour," he said.

He said South Africans are called upon to:

• Wash their hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitisers for at least 20 seconds; 

• Cover their nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow; 

• Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

In essence, he said, "we are calling for a change of behaviour amongst all South Africans".

"We must minimise physical contact with other people, and, encourage the elbow greeting rather than shaking hands."

He said the priority must be to safeguard the health and well-being of all South Africans, to minimise the number of infections and to ensure all those infected get proper treatment.

Stop the fake news

As we battle the virus, he said, perhaps the greatest dangers to our country at this time are fear and ignorance.

"We must appreciate the extent of the threat that this disease presents, we must accept the anxiety that it causes, but we cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by fear and panic.

"We should stop spreading fake and unverified news and create further apprehension and alarm."

Collective effort

The president stressed that this needs to be a collective effort, to limit the spread and effect of the virus.

"While we are facing a medical emergency far graver than we have experienced in recent times, we are not helpless.

"We have the knowledge, the means and the resources to fight this disease.

"If we act swiftly, with purpose and collectively, we can limit the effects of the coronavirus on our people and our country," he said.

Although fighting the spread of the virus requires us to limit contact, he said the situation had the potential to bring us closer together.

"We are responding as a united nation to a common threat. This national emergency demands cooperation, collaboration and common action.

"More than that, it requires solidarity, understanding and compassion," President Ramaphosa said

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Image credit: Getty Images