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Was South Africa’s Hard Lockdown Worth it?

Dec 08, 2020

By Naadiya Adams – @Miss_Naadiya

In retrospect President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to force a hard lockdown was the right choice, but what him and his command council did after that is the problem.

Ramaphosa had at his service, the best in the country, the top scientists, and doctors to have come out of South Africa were advising the Presidency on how to navigate this pandemic.

But for the President it’s been a balancing act like no other, servicing a health crisis while attempting to keep an economy alive and feed a starving nation.

The aim of the hard lockdown was to equip the health care system for a possible surge in cases -which we saw in July, and we are seeing now again – which they achieved.

For me though, the failure in leadership came when the alert levels went from level 5 to level 1 all too quickly, not taking into consideration how the decreased lockdown would decrease awareness and precautionary measures from the public.

The mask wearing culture has been decimated by the rapid decline to lockdown level 1 and sadly, it seems like that will not change. The fear of the virus that people had in March has subsequently hit an all-time low.

In my opinion, lockdown level 3 should have remained in place for a lot longer, while we learnt from other nations during the initial outbreak, we failed to observe how the second wave occurred and with cases rising here on home soil, our second wave is imminent.

The opening up of the economy was unavoidable but the tight curfews should have remained in place, the alcohol ban needed to remain, taxi occupancy was to remain at 70% and law enforcement visibility needed to be escalated – this would have stopped the “Super Spreader” events we are currently seeing.

Engagement at industry level was also necessary especially with the hospitality, tourism, restaurant, and entertainment industries who were hardest hit – to craft a way forward that made sense- which was not done.

The rise in mental health issues and domestic violence amid the lockdown, I believe was not taken into consideration by the council and that sadly is just a fraction of the aftermath we will see come out of the coronavirus pandemic.

While other nations like the UK have begun their COVID19 vaccine roll-out, South Africa is far behind in the race to acquire a vaccine. We are set to take part in the COVAX programme that will look at the most sustainable vaccine option for the country, we have also already invested R500 million in vaccine development, but when a vaccine for South Africa will materialize is still unclear.

For now, we keep our masks on, our hands sanitized and our friends at arm’s length as we combat what has been described as an unprecedented time!


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