On the 30th January 2020, an outbreak was declared as a health emergency concern named coronavirus disease. This is pneumonia that was detected in Wuhan, China. The World Health Organisation announced a new name COVID 19 due to the severity of this disease (WHO:2020).
South Africa woke up to the devasting increase of 554 cases confirmed. This is an unsettling, fearful and uncertain period faced by South Africa. The fear of waking up to another confirmed case or being informed that a loved one has contracted COVID 19. Fear and anxiety have become the roommates of many South Africans. What will become of our people and economy?
Phiwe Mncwabe is a South African resident in the Western side of Johannesburg.
The year 2020 has welcomed uncertainty, fear and anxiety for South Africa. A year that is not only significant for South Africa however, the beginning of a decade. COVID 19 a virus with flu like symptoms ,runny nose, sore throat ,cough ,fever and difficulty in breathing has South Africa frightened. Panic shopping, fear of travelling to work, fear of contracting COVID 19 and a knock in our economy.
The unforeseen changes in our academic plans, delay in graduation ceremonies and no contact learning. With strategies put in place to continue our academic calendar to explore digital or online methodologies. Which of our learners and students will have access to explore the digital or online methodologies? According to the South African Government (2020) Minister Blade estimates that our Post Schooling Education and Training System (PSET) consists of ± 2,5 million students and staff. How many students will have access and what will happen to those that will not have access?
The sad reality is that many of our learners will fall behind and the comfort of being “ at home” will interrupt discipline plans. Many students or learners might suffer academically because of being used to routine and contact sessions. The students that come from households with a total of nine family members from “two room houses”, in the previously designated areas will not be flexible to work late. Some communities do not have access libraries for learners and students. The children of South Africa will be wandering, and some might end up be involved in criminal activities. For a virus to have such an enormous impact on a country such as South Africa, I am so moved myself.
Wash your hands for twenty seconds “they stress” is another concern. Gauteng Province and other parts of South Africa national dam levels are at 66.2% (South African Government:2020). I am of the view that 66.2% will not be enough to fight this pandemic. Let me be frank, the provision of water and sanitation is already a challenge in South Africa. The high-density public areas, informal settlements and the rural areas are severely challenged with the access of clean water. With the COVID 19 adherence to hygiene what will happen to the households who do not have access to clean water? Or rather are they more at risk because the stress on hygiene is highly emphasised?
Our grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles and aunts living in the rural areas with no provision of water what does this mean for them? The fears keep rising, so does the number of cases. “I beg o” municipalities kindly adhere to releasing funds for the provision of water because this disease needs to be controlled everywhere. The standard of the disease is hygiene therefore “hygiene” must be practised in every part of South Africa.
Don’t shake hands to offer greetings “they stress” is another concern. Employment sector, small businesses and the unemployed will be faced with life changing events. COVID 19 welcomes harsh prospects of a deep economic recession, some businesses will close, and many will suffer job loses (South African Government:2020). Interventions and recovery for these prospects might cause difficulty in the economy. Interventions offered by the Department of Small Business making available over R500 million to assist small business in distress is commendable. However, what is going to happen to the foreign nationals without work permits living in South Africa? With this crisis only a few will have access to claiming funds provided by our government.
Stay away from people who show flu like symptoms, a tough call. The access of adequate healthcare in South Africa is severely challenged and with the looming pandemic, many citizens are at risk. I think what is most stressful as a citizen is the private testing going for R1431.00 (Daily Maverick,Shandy:2020). With the poverty and unemployment so high, right now all we can do is adhere to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lockdown call.
In these trying times, I salute Dr Zweli Mkhize’s response and constant updates. To all the health workers, public servants, activists, NGOs, Private and Public sector, entrepreneurs and citizens at large. Thank you for adhering to the call to the standard of hygiene and now the lockdown.
Lastly, to the health workers who lost their lives during this time, rest in peace. As for writers like myself it’s a lockdown and read up period.