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'Unprecedented': South Africa goes into coronavirus lockdown

Al Jazeera's Fahmida Miller, reporting from Johannesburg, said that South Africans have largely embraced the lockdown.

"South Africans have welcomed this lockdown. They do understand it is necessary," she said.
South Africa's healthcare system threatened by coronavirus crisis
"But I imagine that it will take a couple of days for many people to abide by the restrictions because there is a lot to get used to."

Mosa Moshabela, dean and head of the Nursing and South Africa News Public Health School at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said the lockdown "is an opportunity to break transmissions", referring to a believed 14-day incubation period during which the infection can flare into symptoms.

"With the additional week as a sort of buffer, we can assure that anyone who was infected before the lockdown will go through the symptoms and recover within those 21 days," he told Al Jazeera.

Earlier, panicky Johannesburg residents stocked up on food, alcohol and other supplies with some large supermarkets running out of eggs and the staple maize meal powder.

Thousands crammed into long-distance bus terminals to escape to the countryside to be with families, raising fears they would transmit the virus to the most Press Release Distribution Services In South Africa vulnerable elderly people who normally live or retire in farms and villages.

South Africa's Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula warned that "if people are not complying, they [the military] may be forced to take extraordinary measures".

Violation of any of the regulations will carry a six-month jail sentence or a fine.

Two men have already been charged with attempted murder for defying a quarantine order after they tested positive for the coronavirus, exposing others to the infection.

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