We are now 11 days into a new year. Once again, I wish you all the very best for 2021. We enter this year with a great deal of hope – hope that we will restore our nation to health, that the new year will bring our people relief and comfort, and that lives and livelihoods will be rebuilt.
In just four days from now, we will be ushering in a new year. This is traditionally a time of festivity and celebrating. Unfortunately, for us here in South Africa and for others around the world, there is little cause for celebration this year.
It is just 11 days since I last addressed you. Then I reported on the signs of a resurgence of coronavirus infections in various parts of the country. On that day, the 3rd of December, our country recorded over 4,400 new cases. Yesterday, the 13th of December, we recorded nearly 8,000 new cases.
I wish to speak to you this evening about the current state of the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa. Before doing so, I wish to express my appreciation to all South Africans who observed the five days of mourning from the 25th to the 29th of November for those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and gender-based violence and femicide.
Exactly half a year has passed since we declared a national state of disaster in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In that time, more than 15,000 South Africans have lost their lives to the disease and more than 650,000 have been confirmed as infected. Our economy and our society have suffered great devastation. We have endured a fierce and destructive storm. But, by standing together, by remaining resolute, we have withstood it.
It has been five months since we declared a national state of disaster to combat the coronavirus pandemic. As I said then, and as I repeat now, never before in the history of our democracy has our country been confronted with such a severe threat – a situation that has demanded an extraordinary response and much sacrifice.
It is now just over 100 days since the first case of coronavirus was identified in South Africa. For 100 days we have been living in the shadow of one of the greatest threats to global health in over 100 years.
It is exactly 10 weeks since we declared a national state of disaster in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, we have implemented severe and unprecedented measures – including a nation-wide lockdown – to contain the spread of the virus.