• We should force ourselves to be responsible this festive season to save lives
I thought I’d seen it all, and then Covid-19 hit. While on the whole I have been most fortunate so far and the worst I’ve had to suffer is a very painful deep cut in pay, people I know have been infected and affected a heck of a lot worse.
When it all started here in SA early in March, we all wanted Covid-19 to be a passing cloud. The first case of the coronavirus was reported in South Africa on March 5 and in just two weeks, there were 62 across the country.
As a Kenyan who lived under a cloud that refused to pass for 24 years, I should have known that there are some clouds that just don’t pass.
Soon there were the knock-on effects of the virus to deal with. These affected social gatherings and businesses, particularly hospitality, retail and travel.
By March 29 as the lockdown came into effect, South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service was telling us we had 1,280 positive cases.
Soon there were so many new statistics being released globally, nationally and locally every day that it became all too easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers.
Nevertheless, we must never lose sight of the human impact of the virus. Most of the people who have succumbed to Covid-19 began this year like the rest of us with plans and dreams.
They were friends, lovers, parents, siblings, children, husbands, wives, grandparents. They were breadwinners, caregivers, people who contributed to their families, their communities, their countries, etc. There were others who were just starting out on this adventure we know as life.
Of course people die all the time and from all manner of causes, nobody is saying otherwise. However, the deaths from Covid have been particularly jarring and the ones that are still occurring are even more so.
This is because both we the citizens and the world’s governments know all the things we should be doing to protect ourselves and those around us, but we persist in not doing it and nobody wants to take responsibility.
Governments are letting so-called covid-preneurs get away scot-free with the theft of PPEs. Meanwhile, they are failing to prioritise the protection of healthcare workers.
And as for us, the citizens, we continue treating masks as if they were chin warmers, when we wear them at all. We loudly insist on exercising our freedoms of movement and association, not giving a hoot whether or how we affect those around us or ourselves.
We are offended when anyone dares tell us we are being inconsiderate, because seriously, why don’t those interfering people just mind their own damn business?
Now the second wave is upon us and it will decimate us while we are busy blaming everyone else for our plight, even though we know what to do.
It isn’t flipping rocket science to wear a mask or a buff or a scarf and ensure it covers your nose and mouth when you are among people.
I know in many situations water is difficult to come by and that’s your government’s responsibility, so I won't nag about regular washing of hands, but surely, we can try to see what we can do.
As for physical distancing, again there are situations where it is pretty much impossible. But if you have it in the back of your mind, you can give it a shot wherever and whenever you can.
Yes, it’s the season to eat, drink and be merry, but why not see if you can exercise some control?
Because the more people there are injured as a result of alcohol-related incidents, be they road accidents or violence in the home or the pub, the greater the impact on already-stretched health services.
Go on, force yourself to be responsible.
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