South Africans on Friday began the first day of a three-week nationwide lockdown aimed at stemming the tide of coronavirus cases, now topping 900 in South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa urged troops on Thursday to be a “force of kindness,” saying people are terrified of the virus and the soldiers should not do anything to make their situation worse.
Ramaphosa delivered a similar message to police, stressing that they understand that people are fearful of the virus and its potential impact, including losing their livelihoods.
South Africa’s lockdown is considered one of the strictest, with bans on alcohol sales and dog-walking, among other things. People are also not allowed to jog in public for the next three weeks.
South Africa’s borders are already closed for transporting people, but cargos of essential supplies can still come into the country.
The lockdown could last beyond 21 days if the situation with the virus does not improve.