South Africa

COVID-19 Response in South Africa - Country brief (March 2020 - October 2021)

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Operational Context

As of October 2021, the COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa was in the twentieth month since the index cluster of imported cases were confirmed on the 5th of March 2020.
The country reacted early and imposed countrywide lockdown as well as a comprehensive public health response. The President also declared a state of disaster in line with the disaster management act. The government developed a risk-adjusted strategy that aligned five levels with the intensity of transmission, level five being the highest level when there is intense community transmission, and a countrywide lockdown is imposed.
Building on its comprehensive emergency preparedness programme and expertise in South Africa, WHO committed to deploying technical experts to support South Africa's COVID-19 response. In March 2020, the country office re-purposed all technical officers to support the COVID-19 response at national level and in four provinces.

In July 2020, when the country was the fifth globally in terms of cumulative cases, the President requested WHO for technical support towards the response.

The additional surge personnel arrived in the country on the 5th of August 2020. The surge team comprised experts in coordination, epidemiology and surveillance, case management, infection prevention and control, operations and logistics and risk communication.
The team members have been assigned at the national level and in eight provinces (Gauteng, Free State, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and Limpopo).