At the recent District Developmental gathering hosted by the government, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, said, “The Spanish flu in 1918 left more than 300, 000 South Africans dead- even then, the public wore masks, and there were more drastic implications such as going to jail if a mask wasn’t worn.”
She was maintaining that though the pandemic isn’t common, it is something that has been experienced before. Dlamini-Zuma stated that as government, they’ve had to balance saving lives and livelihoods after going to level one as of September 1.
“The economy is almost completely open with a few exceptions but the risk of the virus has not decreased. In fact, it has increased as more people are moving and we know that the virus moves when people move,” she added.
n President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest address last week, he mentioned that he is aware of the discomfort caused by wearing a mask but stated it’s far better than returning to a hard lockdown. The president has again extended the State of Disaster to December 15 and continued to urge the country to comply as the pandemic is still nowhere near ending. He added that 700, 000 South Africans have downloaded the COVID Alert SA mobile application. “The COVID Alert app can alert you if you’ve been exposed to the virus whether in a taxi, shopping mall or social gathering and it does so without sharing your location or personal information,” he said.
It is concerning that though the pandemic is far from over, the public’s compliance is decreasing. When the lockdown started in March, most grocery stores had security guards at entrances who ensured all trollies were sanitised, masks were worn and each customer sanitised their hands. This has since changed and the Rising Sun asked the public to share their thoughts.
A cashier at a local store said, “People don’t care anymore, they think the virus is gone and we have to remind them everyday to wear their masks. I even get scared to ask customers to wear their masks correctly because they give us attitude. I just asked a certain man to cover his nose and the look he gave me said it all.”
Another shopper was interviewed and she said, “These shops are no longer sanitising the trollies, I just complained to management. I had to search for the sanitiser before entering, it’s very disappointing.”
On the contrary, a male hawker shared his input saying, “I think we’re wasting our time. Every death is now seemingly COVID-19 related, you have a heart attack, they say it’s COVID, you have an accident they say it’s COVID. I don’t worry, if it has to catch me, it will catch me. I suffer with shortness of breath and I can’t use a mask. I have never worn a mask since March and look I’m still standing. You must just take each day as it comes.”
President Ramaphosa mentioned that between November 25 to 29, SA will be mourning all the COVID-19 related fatalities. The country’s flag will be flown at half-mast from 6am to 6pm on the assigned dates.