The South African army could be deployed to patrol the streets in a bid to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize told the newspaper that the government would gradually impose stricter measures as the virus spreads before the worse case of a national shutdown.

“Right now it is restrictions. [We] might have to begin to bring in the army to go out and work around the people, talk to them about hygiene, getting them to go sanitise, and so on,” said Mkhize.

It was announced yesterday that 240 people have tested positive, up from 202 on Friday and 150 on Thursday.

The current restrictions include a ban on social and religious gatherings, the closure of bars and shebeens at 6pm on weeknights and shutting down public spaces.

However, SANDF officials told the newspaper that they cannot afford a lockdown. The defence force, they said, has analysed its resources and found that it does not have sufficient personnel or equipment.

“For an effective lockdown, we need much more than what we currently have otherwise it’s as good as nonexistent. Its chances of success are minimal,” said one military official.

For more read: Military on standby as experts fear huge Covid-19 spike

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