Covid-19 is leaving tears and destruction in its wake and it looks as if it is here to stay.
The last time I wrote something was way back in the second week of June and we were still coming to grips with the arrival of the novel virus which had been declared a pandemic. At the time there were just over 53 000 infections and more than 1 100 deaths recorded. Fast forward to today – we have more than 216 000 known cases and 3 502 deaths.
We are now on level 3 and most of the sectors of society have been opened. The department of basic education, in their wisdom, decided to also open schools in the middle of the upward surge of the infections. To make things even more grim, the World Health Organisation has just issued an advisory that the Covid-19 virus may be transmitted through the air more than was previously thought.
When the pandemic started we were told to wash our hands with soap regularly or sanitise them with a sanitiser, wear a mask and practice social distancing. From what I could see, when in public areas, many people are wearing masks and everywhere when you enter a building you sanitise your hands and are compelled to wear a mask. Even with these measures, the infection rate has ballooned from 53 000 a month ago to more than 216 000 cases. In June you would struggle to name people who had been infected or killed by the pandemic.
Today everyone knows someone who has been infected or someone who has succumbed to the pandemic. So what has changed? Why are so many people succumbing to the virus and why are so many being infected even though everyone, I assume, knows all the precautions to take to avoid being infected? I can safely say there is massacre out there, in IsiXhosa we say ‘yinyhikitya’.
South Africans are a funny bunch – we have those who drive themselves into an absolute panic and those who just couldn’t be bothered about anything. The first group of people, unfortunately, are a minority and their strict observance of all the health protocols are being proven to be in vain. The second group, which happens to be the majority, is dragging everyone down with them as they have complete disregard for their safety and everyone else’s. This is a group of people who do not lack knowledge, but choose to ignore everything and go about their lives as normally as possible, disregarding any possible consequences. This is the group that has made sure that, despite all the campaigns, we are the country with the highest HIV infection rate in the world.
There is a third, less-known phenomenon, though – the airborne transmission of the virus that no one knew about. So what do we need to do to rid ourselves of this pandemic? Is there even anything we can do to stop its relentless march? Are we somehow complacent or are we disregarding all the safety protocols we were told about or is the virus finding novel ways to get into our systems? The answer, I’m afraid, is a combination of all those three. People continue to go out into public spaces unnecessarily, thereby increasing their chances of catching it. You cannot tell me the multitudes in towns every day absolutely have to be in town. If we do not stay at home we will perish – simple as that. We just have to find a way to do it.