Government to keep 20 000 soldiers on Covid-19 duty until September


President Cyril Ramaphosa has informed parliament of his decision to extend the deployment of 20,000 soldiers, a drop from 76 000, until September 30 to help enforce Covid-19 restrictions as the country reported its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus cases.

Ramaphosa first deployed 2 820 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) a few days before enforcing a nationwide lockdown in late March. The number was increased to 76 000 in April as the health threat grew.

The money that will be spent on this extension is R1.5 billion, Ramaphosa told the speaker of parliament.

At the end of March, Ramaphosa announced one of the toughest lockdowns anywhere in the world, banning anyone but essential workers from leaving home except to buy food or medicine, and prohibiting alcohol sales, when South Africa had just 400 cases.

The country started slowly reopening parts of the economy from May and again in June but infection have started to spike again. On Thursday, South Africa reported its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus cases, adding 8 728 confirmed infections and taking the total count to 168 061, according to health ministry data. Deaths rose by 95 to 2 844.