President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that schools will be closed on Wednesday following a decision by Cabinet to take ‘urgent and drastic measures’ to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
As the number of infections from the coronavirus rose to 61 on Sunday, Ramaphosa also declared a “national state of disaster” in terms of the Disaster Management Act.
The president also imposed a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China as from 18 March 2020.
“Schools will be closed from Wednesday, 18 March, and will remain closed until after the Easter Weekend,” said Ramaphosa.
“To compensate, the mid-year school holidays will be shortened by a week.”
Ramaphosa said government was working closely with colleges, universities and other public facilities such as Parliament, prisons, police stations and military installations to intensify hygiene control.
He said government was aware of the confirmed case of a student who has tested positive for the coronavirus at Wits University.
“Those who have been in contact with the student will be quarantined. The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation is consulting with vice chancellors of universities and colleges across the country and will soon be announcing measures in this regard,” said Ramaphosa.
Meanwhile, Wits University has cancelled classes and other academic activities as from Monday 16 2020.
Graduations ceremonies at the university have also been postponed.