COVID-19, Update : The unvarnished truth.
I smile as I read Gargi’s comment about the creative juices trickling. On this sunny spectrum, the mind has been full to overflowing with creativity with no outlet other the need to survive the daily working grind. Sadly, the return to work has been anything but pleasant as South Africa heads into the eye of the COVID storm.
Cases in South Africa, as on Monday 29 June, totalled 144,264 while 1,567,084 tests had been conducted, with 38,075 new tests reported. This past week alone has netted cases of almost 5000+ per day. A total of 2,456 deaths have been recorded while 68,925 people have recovered.
Globally, there is a confirmed 10 268 786 confirmed cases with 504 345 deaths, a total of 5 209 809 have recovered.
With the ease of the lockdown, the working force is back in almost full force, most people almost itching to get back to routine and others, like me, not so much! Yes, yes, I know the flagging economy which has taken a beating. We concede that the government has been over-extended financially and a solid footing is required, especially in the tourism sector. The financial hiccups for every person has been felt acutely. Those that could and can help, have come together in the true South African spirit of Ubuntu. Yet needs must be met and families fed which sadly means that the congregation of people in mines and factories have amplified cluster outbreaks, especially the public transport travellers as taxis and busses are filling to capacity, some out of desperation and others ruthlessly greedy or uncaring, but all completely disregarding regulations.
Yet another speech from the President’s desk has outlined that some South Africans are not respecting themselves and others by not adhering to the most crucial “non-pharmaceutical” interventions – washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.
Government has pleaded with the citizens to remember the consequences. Gauteng, a seven hour drive away from me has spiralled alarmingly in their cases and a stricter lockdown for this province is being seriously considered by officials. Rightfully so, I say.
As it is, the Eastern Cape, severely disadvantaged that it is, and where thankfully, my husband is no longer stationed for work, is considered a Covid Disaster Zone because people simply did not adhere to the regulations favouring socializing, drinking and lack of social distancing. There have been accounts of people dying in the streets and maternity nursing personnel, simply not pitching up for work, as they fear their lives and those of their loved ones. Simply because people have been stupidly ignorant. Many lives were lost whilst waiting for help. Funeral homes and mortuaries are filled to capacity.
Is South Africa going to be the next Italy or Spain?
Appeals to the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to close schools have fallen on deaf ears and as infections are certain to continue to spike, especially during the mid-winter with confusing similarities to COVID-19 symptoms. Thankfully, my kids have completed their secondary education. I would not have sent them back for the remainder of the year. A year lost in comparison to a child lost? Over-dramatic? No. Reality yes.
I cringed and found myself at a loss for words, when I read that a jogger had found hundreds of used test kits callously disposed off on a highway.
This idea of the restaurants, cinemas and casinos (why?!) being opened brings renewed anxiety as the major infection hot spots are the malls and the business districts.
High movements = high risks of transmissions.
Our President, in his concern for his people, instigated the lockdown to enable the healthcare facilities to be brought to speed to cope with the virus. It has been an eye-opener and in hindsight, that five week lockdown should be implemented now, as we stumble through the shocking crisis.
Imagine being separated from your loved ones, put at the mercy of severely overwhelmed medical personnel and strangers? Quarantined and now with the healthcare facilities packed to overflowing, left to die?
That Pierre Cardin bag that I lusted over has been shelved. That restaurant meal is it worth it? No, not at all. I cannot get the image of someone inadvertently contaminating that outing. The forays into the commercial zones have restricted, almost, as if we are still in the severest stage of lockdown. When I venture out, it is in protective gear, only for the pharmaceutical essentials and groceries. Wants do not feature now. Especially in this cash strapped climate. I certainly do not want to pay to get COVID-19.
Having been back at work for the past two months, keeping tabs on worldwide activities, yet trying to keep afloat locally, interaction with any person is still considered a threat. That dear colleague sputtering his cough into his elbow and mask had to return to work. As I had to. Social distancing, sanitising, trendy masks, and gloves, thermometers, all have become the new norm.
The new norm entails :
- Death of small businesses
- Drastic salary cuts as much as 25% or 50%
- Longer working hours
- Concerted efforts at Business Development
- Tendering with offers of massive discounts
- Increased travel costs as the reduced petrol prices dangled during the lockdown, escalates
- Increased food costs
- Employers using Government aided funds and not reimbursing the workers
- Employers using Government aided funds and reimbursing workers fractionally
- Suze Orman’s refrains, “Is it a want or a need?”
- Increased anxiety over health and well-being, in every aspect
- Debit orders bouncing as the banks and insurers retrieve their umbrella of help that was restricted to just the month
- Inability to save towards retirement
- Inability to pay towards hospital and medical plans
- Threats of redundancy, thereby prompting the acceptance of pittance salary decrees
- A fear to enter a hospital, fearing an outcome far worse
Thankfully social media has allowed us to keep in touch with loved ones, that dreaded zoom meeting is still preferred. Those memes that maintain that women sans make-up are not available after 9pm because they have been reset to factory settings? I’ll take that.
Months of not seeing my 78 year old Mom fuelled a drive-by meet and greet. No hugs, just emotionally charged chats. The risk for her is far greater. At this age, she is so fragile, the nephew has warned that her two favourite treats, bananas and avocados are unwelcome. The presented milk tarts and the smiles spoke volumes. Simple gestures, the rainbows of our new lives.
Stay protected, safe and keep other safe.