By Naseerah Nanbhai
While the number of new cases of COVID-19 has increased globally, the caseload in China is on a decline. According to the WHO, this demonstrates that the course of the outbreak can be altered by following the procedure to reduce the risk of the spread.
China implemented lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus. This prevented the natural course of the outbreak from reaching a high peak which would overwhelm health services. The WHO is working to share lessons learnt from China to benefit other countries now facing COVID-19.
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19. The nationwide lockdown is necessary to fundamentally disrupt the chain of transmission. It will prevent the spread of the virus and save the lives of South Africans.
“This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people”, Ramaphosa said.
South Africans should not panic, remain positive and follow the guidelines in place to reduce the spread of the virus. A successful shutdown can ultimately bend the curve downward, dramatically reducing the number of those currently infected as has been achieved in China.
Any lockdown phase is extremely costly socially, politically and economically and the goal is to lift it as soon as possible consistent with avoiding a rebound in the epidemic. It will however buy time as researchers around the globe work to find a long term solution to the virus.
The next three weeks will be a hard knock for South Africans, but we should remain hopeful. Cooperation and adhering to regulations is essential to overcome this crisis and recover afterwards.