Editorial: Politicians fiddled, now Gauteng burns in a third wave

There are numerous competing interests in this pandemic game — saving lives, economic recovery, and an election year’s politics. But with 17 493 new Covid-19 cases reported in one day across the country, and more than 10 000 in Gauteng, it is a no-brainer that the state and the ministerial advisory committee should have shut down the country earlier. 

The second Covid-19 wave unexpectedly hit us all hard as people were getting ready to visit family and friends after not seeing them for close to a year. There were lessons we should have learned from, but it seems we didn’t. Everyone, including the ministerial committee and the presidency, knew the third wave was coming and, just like the second, would and could be harsher, especially as new variants emerge all the time. 

Only now, a week after the country was taken to lockdown level three-light, do the murmurs of Gauteng being placed under a stricter lockdown begin. Experts seem to be split on this. But the louder voices are saying that it wouldn’t make a lick of difference. It’s too late. 

The situation on the ground is terrible, though, with half of the patients admitted to hospitals across the country in Gauteng. By Tuesday, the province recorded more than 10 000 active cases, whereas the other provinces did not even hit 2 000 new cases.

With more than half of the cases, deaths, hospital admission in Gauteng, locking the province down now, two weeks before the actual peak of the third wave, would have more devastating consequences.

And President Cyril Ramaphosa has said on numerous occasions that the balance between saving lives and the economy is vital. 

Last April, Professor Salim Abdool Karim told the country that the best way to fight Covid-19 was to flatten the curve. Abdool Karim introduced a new image: that of “small fires”, extinguished before they turn into large, unmanageable conflagrations. Mass testing is a way of seeking out hotspots of infection, “putting our community health workers onto the ground, looking for the fires”.

We have forgotten this advice, and it shows through our scurrying right now to decide whether we place Gauteng on a stricter lockdown. 

Unfortunately, there were no firemen in Gauteng to put out those little fires. Instead, for weeks as the numbers climbed, we watched. The country dabbled in discussions of whether we would get more vaccines or why we didn’t want them from China and Russia. 

Amid all this indecision, we are now bearing the brunt of a system that is still not conducive for dealing with community transmissions. Harsher restrictions and constant lockdowns are not the answer. The answer lies in a competent system that uses the data wisely and a population that is not as reckless as ours. 

An actual Black Friday deal

Subscribe for R2/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Impala Platinum re-enters Royal Bafokeng Platinum buyout bid

The announcement comes just weeks after competitor Northam inked a deal to acquire up to 33.3% of Royal Bafokeng Platinum

Brakes put on foreign truck drivers

New legislation aims to protect local jobs in the transport sector amid questions as to whether SA has enough willing and skilled drivers

SANParks shifts to solar and spekboom

Solar-generated pumps are pumping larger volumes of water for wildlife than diesel used to, and spekboom is helping offset carbon emissions

Mandatory vaccination on cards as Ramaphosa keeps South Africa on...

Ramaphosa calls out world leaders for irrational travel bans as scientists gather evidence on new Omicron variant
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×