A man walks in empty streets in Johannesburg on the first day of the 21-day lockdown. Picture: THAPELO MOREBUDI
A man walks in empty streets in Johannesburg on the first day of the 21-day lockdown. Picture: THAPELO MOREBUDI

The government is doomed if it lifts the lockdown, and doomed if it doesn’t. Here is what it should do:

  • Tell South Africans the truth. The lockdown doesn’t mean we have avoided widespread infections and deaths. Covid-19 might be with us for a few years and up to 60% (34-million) of us might get it at some point. Don’t panic — more than 99% of us will be OK, with the majority showing mild or no symptoms. We can expect up to 0.1% (60,000) of our population to die from complications linked to the virus this winter and over the coming months. Keep it in perspective: the vast majority of people who die this winter would have succumbed before long to other medical complications (in the US and Europe only one to 1.6 more deaths were registered for March and April). So it seems Covid-19 is nowhere near as deadly as we originally feared. Worldwide lockdowns won’t snuff it out, so we need to stay vigilant and calm.
  • Focus all of our effort on protecting those who are most vulnerable. Stop random testing and focus on rigorous testing at our hospitals and care facilities to keep medical workers, care workers, vulnerable individuals, patients and the elderly safe this year.
  • Give us the benefit of the doubt. Lift the restrictions and allow the population to self-regulate. Give financial support to those with medical conditions who are concerned for their health, and give them the option to stay home, including medical certificate to exempt them from working for the next few months.
  • Finally, give us a dream to hold onto. Remind us of a future that is beautiful for every citizen. We need to see the rainbow during these stormy times.

Karen Newman
Newlands

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