Coming out of lockdown

Dr EV Rapiti, Kenwyn

With regards to the national lockdown and coming out of lockdown, what is clear is that we do not know how much we have succeeded in stemming the spread of the virus.

We will be heading for the heart of winter, when it is the height of the flu season.

We will not know who is afflicted with the coronavirus and who has the ordinary flu.

Our economy cannot afford an extension of the lockdown. This last lockdown lost us an estimated R300 billion in GDP. Any further loss will see us bankrupt.

We will have to get the economy on its feet and with that comes its challenges like maintaining hygiene at home, in taxis, buses, in the workplace and maintaining physical distancing.

Physical distancing is going to be quite a challenge to maintain because much of our economic activity is based on physical closeness in the workplace, shopping centres, entertainment, clubs and pubs, sports fields, schools, children in the playgrounds, funerals, weddings and services.

To add to our woes, we have huge groups of people who think the coronavirus is a hoax and that it is a disease that won’t affect them.

These people go about their lives with gay abandon. We saw a spike in coronavirus cases and deaths in the Eastern Cape because people in rural areas flaunted the lockdown rules and attended funerals, services and parties.

Heavy consumption of alcohol is our other big problem. Drunk people obey no rules, so they will be putting themselves and their families at high risk of contracting the virus.

The government, law enforcement and health care services can only do so much, and that so much is limited.

Much more can be achieved if the whole of society took a proactive stance to fight the virus by protecting themselves with masks and hand hygiene.

If South Africans stopped abusing alcohol our admission rates to our state facilities due to alcohol-related trauma would decrease by 66%.

This saving on health care can be better distributed fighting Covid-19.

Some estimates have it that the virus could plague us for another three years, in waves.

If we can stimulate the survival and revival of small businesses, we can make a huge dent in unemployment, decrease deaths from starvation and reduce crime levels.

If we do not control the spread of this virus, we will be harming some of our biggest income earners: hospitality and export of fruit, veg and livestock, among others.

It is up to every citizen in this country to fight this virus to survive and win as individuals.

If we have to rely on the army, government and police to force us to act responsibly for our own good, then we have learnt nothing from this lockdown and we are living in cloud cuckoo land, waiting for a disaster to take its course. We will end up like hapless war casualties.

Our only hope will be in finding a drug or vaccine, but that is a long way off.