OPINION | Comply or SA will feel the harshest effects of Covid-19

Image: 123RF/Jarun Ontakrai

Our optimism as a nation is not misguided.

Time and again, South Africans have displayed a gritty determination to resolve our big challenges — some self-inflicted, others based on circumstances we could neither avoid nor control.

Our history is as much a reminder of where we have been as that it must be a lodestar for our future.

A minority, ignorant or callously self-serving, will insist that this country is incapable — at any time but especially in this season of Covid-19 — of galvanising our shared humanity, deploying the collective resources we possess, to protect all who call SA home.

We are not oblivious to the potential risk to our democratic ideals of the state’s suspension of the normal civilian laws that both protect and place obligations on us. However, we regard the dangers inherent in failing to slow down the spread of Covid-19 as constituting a far more significant, imminent threat.

Hence, we stand squarely behind President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government on the measures which are being implemented to staunch the spread of the virus.

Until now, the virus has been the ultimate silent and invisible menace in our society. With the first two reported deaths from Covid-19 in SA, the virus is now evident for all, and will become increasingly so very quickly in coming days.

The danger exists that the world’s approaches might not work and that the worst doomsday scenarios will unfold.

Because our country is not exceptional, because our people and infrastructure are already significantly compromised because of historical factors of the apartheid and democratic eras, we will feel those effects more harshly than others.

It may mean that our government fails to maintain moral leadership in the midst of this disaster, our health system implodes, bodies stack up across the country, civil disobedience takes hold on a mass scale, and fights in the streets over food and medical supplies become the order of the day.

If you are not engaged in an essential work or social service, and have no compelling need to go out anywhere, please stay at home

It is for these reasons that we implore all those until now in denial about Covid-19’s threat to our existence, to stop the foolishness of continuing to live through this shutdown as if all is normal, doing all the usual activities that involve close and intensive interaction with others in public spaces.

If you are not engaged in an essential work or social service, and have no compelling need to go out anywhere, please stay at home.

We will make mistakes in this collective effort to stop the spread of the virus and the vicious illnesses and painful deaths that will result.

But we dare not be tardy in following the essential social distancing and basic hygiene measures. Life depends on this.

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