54.9 Overall Score (up 0.7 since Aug 1st.)

South Africa

  • 43.4 Public Health
  • 39.9 Financial
  • 100 Fact-Based
  • 43.4 Public Health
  • 39.9 Financial
  • 100 Fact-Based

Overall, South Africa's score is relatively strong with vigorous policy implementation—particularly with respect to lockdowns—offset by its relatively meager financial response.

Pre-COVID Conditions

South Africa scored near the bottom in every single subcategory, except for the relative size of its debt.

  • Debt/GDP ratio 56.7%
  • GDP/capita $13,965
  • Gini coefficient (out of 100) 63
  • Infant mortality rate (out of 1,000 live births) 28
  • Healthcare access score (out of 100) 52
  • Hospital beds/1,000 People 19.7

Government Response

Select a data point for more information
(Data points represent policy level as of Jan 1.)

Public Health Directives

South Africa’s public health policy is near the median, with poor testing, limited restrictions on gatherings and lockdowns, and limited emergency healthcare spending as its main shortcomings.

  • Stay at home order 1
  • Public gathering restrictions 2
  • School closings 1
  • Public event cancellations 1
  • Testing policy 0
  • Emergency healthcare investments/capita $0.53
  • Travel restrictions 2
  • Tests/1,000 people 112.3
  • Contact tracing 2

Financial Response

South Africa has a relatively weak financial score, with strong debt forbearance policy undercut by a small stimulus and minimal income support.

  • Financial stimulus as share of GDP 10%
  • Income support 1
  • Debt forebearance 2

Fact-Based Communication

South Africa’s government is very strong in this category, as it has not engaged in misinformation or limited press freedom in response to COVID-19.

  • Reliance on science/fact based information 0
  • Press freedom 0

COVID-19 Status as of Jan 1

While South Africa’s rate of cases and deaths have come down, its positivity rate is high and has gotten substantially worse, giving it a very poor score in this category.

  • Total deaths 28,887
  • Death rate per 100K 487.1
  • Total cases 1,073,887
  • Cases per 100K 18,107
  • Percent of positive tests 32.2
  • Change in positivity rates +23.3
Case Trend Line
Daily cases Level 1 Lockdown Level 2 Lockdown Level 3 Lockdown
Date Status New Cases/1M
1 May 01 A few businesses are allowed to reopen 4.17
2 Jun 01 Most economic activities reopen, except for high-risk ones (e.g., restaurants, bars, events, conferences, and domestic air travel) 25.87
3 Jun 08 Schools start to reopen 39.80
4 Jun 17 Restrictions on restaurants, events, conferences, and sports ease 60.20
5 Jul 12 Alcohol ban and curfew are reintroduced, facemasks are mandated 191.47
6 Jun 27 Public schools shut down for a month 94.23
7 Aug 17 Lockdown restrictions ease 63.32
8 Aug 28 Cinemas reopen 40.45
9 Sep 16 Shorten nighttime curfew, alcohol sales resume, public gathering sizes expand to 250 (indoor) and 500 (outdoor) 26.53
10 Oct 01 Almost all restrictions relaxed, including international travel to certain countries 21.76
11 Oct 20 High-risk countries revised down from 60 to 22 28.34

Differentiating Factors

Compared with Other African Countries
  • 77.4
    Senegal 19,364
    Per 1M

    Senegal’s COVID-19 policy response has been very strong across the board, buoyed by strong public health directives and a reliance on science and facts.

  • 98.1
    Ghana 54,930
    Per 1M

    Ghana scores strongly on the Index, due primarily to its proactive public health policy, strong examples set by leadership, and reliance on facts; while consistently strong, it does have very weak testing, limited emergency healthcare spending, and a weak stimulus.

  • 100
    Kenya 96,614
    Per 1M

    Kenya has a strong overall policy score, although down significantly from January. However, it is consistently scoring well in all areas, particularly its reliance with respect to facts and science on COVID-19.

  • 96.4
    Ethiopia 124,652
    Per 1M

    Despite having relatively weak pre-pandemic capacity, swift action and prevention-based messaging from the government helped mitigate spread early on in the crisis.

Further Reading From Foreign Policy

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New Zealand

Statistics and government response factors available on each country profile include:

Pre-COVID Conditions:

  • Debt to GDP ratio
  • Infant mortality rates
  • Hospital beds per 1,000 people
  • Gini coefficients measuring inequality
  • Health access and quality

COVID-19 Public Health Directives:

  • Stay-at home orders
  • School-closing policy
  • Public-gathering restrictions
  • Cancellation of public events
  • Testing policy and rates per 1,000 people
  • Emergency healthcare spending per capita
  • Travel restrictions
  • Contact tracing

COVID-19 Financial Response:

  • Stimulus package as a share of GDP
  • Income support
  • Debt-forbearance

Public Communications:

  • Instances of misinformation by leadership
  • Limitations on press freedom, censorship

Current/Historic In-Country COVID-19 Status:

  • Death rates per 1 million
  • Case rates per 1 million