[imagesource: ABC News / Patrick Stone]
President Cyril Ramaphosa was slated to address the nation yesterday, but at around 7PM it was confirmed that he would do so at some stage today.
According to his spokespeople, the address was pushed back due to ongoing meetings between Ramaphosa and key economic stakeholders.
On Saturday, news did the rounds that a full lockdown announcement by Ramaphosa was imminent, but that was quickly rubbished by spokesperson Khusela Diko.
With all of that in mind, it’s tough to answer the question of if (when) and how a lockdown would happen, but TimesLIVE offers some insight as to how certain sectors would be affected:
Shopping mall owners are in discussions with the national and provincial governments in preparation for a feared national coronavirus lockdown…
The SA Property Owners Association [SAPOA], whose members own 90% of the country’s shopping malls, told TimesLIVE that discussions had recently been held with public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille about logistics and the impact should a national lockdown be enforced…
Among measures considered was closing all shops in malls other than grocery stores and pharmacies.
As public works and infrastructure minister, Patricia de Lille would be heavily involved in these decisions, and has been discussions with SAPOA CEO Neil Gopa.
Speaking yesterday afternoon, Gopa doesn’t believe that a total shutdown is imminent, and his organisation has drafted a document that differentiates between what they consider essential versus non-essential services.
It is expected that any lockdown, should it be announced, would be rolled out in phases.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde said the meeting was part of a larger strategy to deal with Covid-19. “If we go into lockdown there still needs to be services so people can eat. The meeting looked at various low, medium and high risk scenarios and what needs to be done when the risk levels rise. The discussions were around mitigating risks while still ensuring essential services are provided.”
In the Sunday Times, it is reported that the army is now on standby if the number of confirmed coronavirus infections (274 at the time of writing) in South Africa continues to rise.
That plan does have one massive snag:
…senior military officials told the Sunday Times that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) cannot afford a lockdown. The defence force, they said, has analysed its resources and found that it does not have sufficient personnel or equipment.
“For an effective lockdown, we need much more than what we currently have otherwise it’s as good as nonexistent. Its chances of success are minimal,” said one military official.
In terms of regulations for a state of disaster, the SANDF must mobilise soldiers, equipment, stores, aircraft platforms, vehicles and facilities which, senior military officials say, it does not have.
The military official said they would not be able to secure quarantine sites in districts across the country, would have to recall all soldiers deployed to the borders, and still the police would have to assist.
Ah – well that’s a real kick in the downstairs.
Not to be alarmist, here, but given that so many South Africans seem intent on going about business as usual, perhaps it is time.
According to modelling by Wits University academics, things really could explode in the near future:
[The modelling] shows that once 100 people become locally infected, 1-million people could contract Covid-19 within the next 40 days…
Physicists, computer scientists and engineers behind Wits’s infection simulation say that, given the speed at which the virus spreads, the 100-person localised infection mark is “imminent”.
That’s localised infections, not total infections, to clear up any misunderstanding, and the numbers are also based on a situation where no containment measures are adhered to.
Seriously, now is the time for everyone who has the luxury to stay at home to do so.
It’s not about you, it’s about ensuring that our health system isn’t unable to look after those most desperately in need of medical assistance.
In a column this morning, News24‘s editor-in-chief, Adriaan Basson, laid things out clearly:
If you need to be shocked into action by seeing what our future could be, please search for videos recorded inside Italian hospitals in the past few days.
Google stories about patients dying alone or doctors having to play God because they have too few ventilators or ICU beds.
That is a good example of what happens when a nation drags its feet with containing the rapid spread of the virus…
Our numbers are growing and despite the best efforts of the government to control the outbreak of Covid-19, it will be up to South Africans to decide the extent of the public health crisis we will face when thousands of citizen suddenly need oxygen.
This is not the time to be selfish or stubborn.
It will be a real shame if it took a state of emergency to force all South Africans to toe the line in this moment of crisis.
Don’t be that person.
Let’s pull in the same direction here, for the greater good.
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