South Africa's Ramaphosa extends lockdown by two weeks

FILE PHOTO: President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation address at parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday extended a lockdown aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus by two weeks to the end of April.

Africa’s most industrialised nation has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa, but that number is expected to rise as the government embarks on a mass testing drive.

The lockdown, which started on March 27 and was due to last for 21 days, is one of the toughest measures imposed by an African government, and Ramaphosa vowed a package of support for businesses affected by the economic shutdown.

“After careful consideration of the available evidence, the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to extend the nationwide lockdown by a further two weeks, beyond the initial 21 days,” Ramaphosa said.

“This means that most of the existing lockdown measures will remain in force until the end of April.”

Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg and Alexander Winning; Editing by Tim Cocks