How do you ensure all South African citizens get the correct health information and government updates, without putting them at risk of fake news? That was one of the challenges facing the government at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One website for all SA coronavirus information
On 26 March 2020 it was announced that all websites in the .za namespace had to include a link back to the sacoronavirus.co.za website: the official government information resource for the COVID-19 pandemic. This was to ensure that all South African citizens received accurate information regarding the spread of the virus, and the efforts by our government to address the crisis. To give some context, there are 1.2 million domains registered in the .za namespace (although not all of them have websites).
Naeem Mayet from Digital Boutique, a web design company, was asked to build a WordPress website by Digital Vibes, the company that manages the Minister of Health’s social media accounts. “Creating and setting up the website was fairly quick,” explains Naeem, “we signed up with a basic xneelo R99 hosting package, and within a day the website was up and running.” At first it was just going to be a basic site for the Health Minister’s team to store press releases and media updates, but then the government decided to use the Minister’s website as the point of online contact for all COVID-19 resources and information. “So from a small press release portal, it morphed to a resource point for COVID-19 -- regulations, contact hotlines, daily updates etc,” says Naeem.
Dedicated resource on a Managed Server
Prior to the announcement, the website was hosted on a shared server, using one of xneelo’s Web Hosting packages. The xneelo team quickly noticed server load issues on the shared server that the site was hosted on. Our team proactively put measures in place to manage the significant increase in traffic so that the website wasn’t overwhelmed -- this could have resulted in downtime of this key resource, a concern for both Digital Boutique and xneelo.
The xneelo team promptly moved the website to a Managed Server and provided advice on how to manage the surge in traffic. The Dedicated Server environment provides more resources and allows for greater configuration for a customer’s specific needs, so this was a natural solution. The server was custom-configured to manage the increased traffic and demand, and following advice from the xneelo technical support team, Naeem modified the website caching to maximise performance. Cloudflare was also implemented to mitigate any malicious attacks on the website.
Critical information site
Since the announcement was made for all websites to include a link to sacoronavirus.co.za, the website has received 23 million backlinks, with about 26,500 domains pointing to the site.
Since moving to a Managed Server there has been zero downtime on this critical information site during the crisis, and the measures taken have so far proven sufficient. “I’ve been with xneelo for over 10 years and host hundreds of domains and sites with them,” says Naeem. “It’s always a pleasure to deal with xneelo and their talented technical support team.”
When we talk about customer service at xneelo, this is what we mean: working with you to solve your digital and web hosting needs. We know that running a business requires agility as your business grows and adapts to the world around you, and we’re confident that our partnership can help you do just that.
Record numbers of visitors
From 1st April to 30 June, sacoronavirus.co.za received:
- Over 7,4 million visitors across 16 million visits
- A daily average of 155,000 visitors a day
- A peak of over 293,000 visitors in 1 day
- Over 31 million page views
The numbers are proof that the website is providing a valuable and essential resource during this crisis: accurate and timely information from the government on a reliably hosted website that can handle millions of visits.