TONY LEON: Getting sick from Covid-19 might help us bin political fantasies
The more stringent the public health response, the worse the economic effects as our world contracts
On the issue of the widening and constriction of our sovereign borders, the propulsive fuel for populists far and wide, the virus is a global crisis, though infection rates and governmental responses differ widely. US President Donald Trump’s cry of “America First” and Boris Johnson’s “take back control” Brexit had winning voter appeal. Writing in the Financial Times last week, Philip Stephens commented archly: “Viruses do not respect state frontiers. The worldwide spread of coronavirus has instead given eloquent expression to the stubborn fact of international interdependence.” But quarantines, travel bans, tourism declines and border closures mean a huge global separation as well.
As for our local minister of health, Zwele Mkhize, his early assurance that “high alert” had been achieved by mid-February due to temperature screening at airports was rendered moot when “patient one”, a resident of KwaZulu-Natal, landed at an SA airport without displaying symptoms.