ZA lockdown lunacy. A podcast conversation on prohibition and other punishment

A244B82A-7D47-4B80-93FB-02C8AC40D6FB
Wonderful, wonderful Cape wine

By John Fraser

Normally, the ZA Confidential podcasts involve a tasting of wine or some other boozy delight.

However, following the second imposition of lockdown prohibition in South Africa, the focus has shifted.

Instead, our discussion was on the lockdown itself, and the heavy-handed treatment of long-suffering citizens by our pitiless politicians.

Joining me were IT wizard Malcolm MacDonald, analyst Chris Gilmour, economist Chris Hart and lavish-liver David Bullard.

Click below for a discussion tannie Zuma would not approve of…..

Like this podcast? Subscribe to ZA Confidential to receive our newsletters.  Twitter:  @zaconfidential 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SA restaurant madness. Booze still banned.

3ee17698-df1a-4a37-9218-ba89ac9f1ec2
We must dine without wine.

 

By John Fraser

Well, we can now eat and be merry in restaurants again, but with no booze.

The latest anti-alcohol blast from our nanny government came as a bit of a shock.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Wednesday night that restaurants could open again for sit-down meals, with safety measures.  What he didn’t seem to say in his speech was that no alcohol could be served.

Once again, the booze-hating fraction inside the Cabinet appears to have triumphed over the rest.

Now, I am no great expert on the finances of running a restaurant, although I have some dear friends who are in that profession, but I am pretty sure that it will be far more difficult to make a living if you not only have to restrict numbers to ensure safe distancing of clients – but on top of this, the financial loss of not selling booze will be a crushing blow.

And what about the customers?  I have endured no-alcohol meals in some Muslim-owned restaurants, including in some of the top restaurants when I visited Saudi Arabia.

It is not the same.  Trust me.

Fine dining, for me anyway, involves fine wine.  Or beer…  With a cheeky post-consumption shot of something to aid the digestion.

You eat and drink to be merry, and there is not much fun if you go out just to eat and sulk.

In any event, I understand that looming legislation will not allow the tiniest trace of alcohol when you are driving, further drying up the supply of customers for our restaurants.

Yes, there are the Ubers and others.   But that further adds to the cost of the experience.

All in all, the lifeline which the government seemed to offer to the restaurant trade….is more like a tightening noose.

Like this article? Subscribe to ZA Confidential to receive our newsletters.  Twitter:  @zaconfidential 

 

South African proposal to breed wildlife for slaughter courts disaster

The proposed Meat Safety Act will see more wild animals landing on dinner plates.
GettyImages

Chris Alden, London School of Economics and Political Science and Ross Harvey, University of Johannesburg

There are times of spectacular policy myopia – and promoting a revision to the Meat Safety Act by the South African government is surely one of these moments.

In late February the government proposed adding over 90 local and non-indigenous species to the list of animals regulated under the Meat Safety Act. Prior to this the act allowed for the commercial slaughter of 35 “domesticated animals” and “wild game” species.

The list of 90 included rhinoceros, hippopotamus and giraffe, as well as “all other species of animals not mentioned above, including birds, fish and reptiles that may be slaughtered as food for human and animal consumption”.

The bill is currently being circulated for comment.

The purpose of the Meat Safety Act is to provide measures to promote meat safety and the safety of animal products for human and animal consumption. The effect of the proposed amendment is to make the whole act applicable to any animal to be slaughtered.

It appears that at least part of the reason for these amendments is to regulate the slaughter of captive-bred lions, whose bones are exported in growing quantities to Asian markets.

If passed in its present form the act opens up the possibility of massive consumption of wildlife. How? By inadvertently driving up the demand for bushmeat through legitimising the consumption of protected wild animals.

A growing conservation concern

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the dangers of the transmission of viruses from wildlife to humans. The same pattern of infectious disease “species jumping” was implicated in the origin and spread of COVID-19, Ebola and SARS.

This zoonotic spillover risk is strongest in “wet markets”, where live animals, fish and birds are butchered and sold to consumers on-site (as well as products like skins, scales and horns). A systematic review in 2007 concluded that:

The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb.

Bushmeat consumption across the continent is already a daunting conservation problem. Bushmeat increasingly serves as a supplement to protein from other sources such as cattle, chickens, goats and sheep.




Read more:
Banning bushmeat could make it harder to stop future pandemics


Our fear is that the change in the law could lead to more wet markets being established in South Africa. While the amendments increase regulatory control, it’s not clear that the government will have the capacity to enforce them. More likely is the risk of realising unintended consequences.

Individuals and small businesses are likely to see this as an opportunity to enter a sector where start-up costs are minimal, sanitary standards difficult to enforce and oversight non-existent.

Trade in small markets already exists in South Africa, which double as markets for traditional medicine in some instances. One study of the Faraday Market in Johannesburg revealed that at least 147 identified vertebrates were being traded for both bushmeat and traditional medicine.

Preserving scarce wildlife

Putting African wildlife on the menu for mass consumption holds implications that are important for our relationship with the wild and environment. It reduces wild animals to mere consumables.

Remember that these amendments come in the wake of 32 wild animal species having recently been included in changes to the Animal Improvement Act, essentially relegating them to mere agricultural products.




Read more:
What is the wildlife trade? And what are the answers to managing it?


What is being put forward by government signals that it is open season on the country’s national heritage and authorises a great expansion of the legal procurement of wild animals for sale.

As has been demonstrated time and time again, the formal legalisation of wildlife trade provides both a cover and an incentive for the illegal trade in wildlife and its products.

For example, the trade in perlemoen, or abalone, has been legal for generations and harvested on a sustainable basis. However, once permits were issued to unscrupulous front companies from Asia, the systematic stripping of the coast commenced with exports packed and sent out of the Cape and Johannesburg all under the legal guise of a legitimate business.




Read more:
First steps to tackling South Africa’s abalone poaching


A significant portion of perlemoen has disappeared from coastal shores, depriving South Africans of employment, valued-add production (such as canning, now performed in Asian countries) and enjoyment of a national resource.

Attempts to protect the species through listing on Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) appendixes have been thwarted by pressure from a fishing industry subject to corruption.

Defeating public health and conservation objectives

Promoting the consumption of wildlife in South Africa will only intensify the commodification of the country’s natural heritage. And it will potentially create zoonotic spillover health risks for humans as well as from wild animals like wildebeest to domesticated animals such as cattle.

We cannot continue to treat our delicate ecological systems as free capital. They are the vital life support systems without which nothing and no one can survive.The Conversation

Chris Alden, Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science and Ross Harvey, Director of Research and Programmes, Good Governance Africa, University of Johannesburg

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Like this article? Subscribe to ZA Confidential to receive our newsletters.  Twitter:  @zaconfidential 

 

SA wine tasting podcast: Rickety Bridge The Printers’ Devil Belphegor 2017

Printers-Devil-Belphegor-2017
A lovely Cape red

Happier days are here again, now that the lockdown in SA has eased, and we can once more purchase booze.

This podcast was recorded before the lockdown, and now it is lifted, we must rally to support the formidable wine industry in the Cape, which brings so much pleasure, whatever nonsense some in government may spout about the devil’s brew.

For our latest podcast, Michael Olivier introduced a lovely Cape red:  Rickety Bridge; The Printers’ Devil Belphegor 2017.

Guest tasters were old favourites: brander Jeremy Sampson, analyst Chris Gilmour and IT expert Malcolm Macdonald.

There was also a useful discussion on the delights – and perils – of ordering wine by the glass.

Click below to enjoy the podcast:

Like this podcast? Subscribe to ZA Confidential to receive our newsletters.  Twitter:  @zaconfidential  

Do also check out:  http://www.michaelolivier.co.za

 

 

South Africa’s lockdown: a great start, but then a misreading of how society works

The ban on the sale of alcohol has been partially lifted, but tobacco remains prohibited.
Roger Sedres/Gallo Images via Getty Images

By Steven Friedman, University of Johannesburg

South Africa’s government is proud that its response to Covid-19 relies on science. It might be prouder if it was also guided by knowledge of how society works.

When South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown began on 27 March, opposition from some quarters was inevitable. What was not expected was that the most vehement resistance would be aimed at a ban on selling tobacco products. Only around 1 in 5 South Africans smoke and previous government limits on smoking were not controversial.

The ban generated such heat because, when the government began relaxing the lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that tobacco sales would be allowed. Then, at the apparent prompting of the minister responsible for lockdown rules, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the decision was reversed; the ban is still in force.

Dlamini-Zuma has an unfortunate tendency to lecture rather than persuade and her role seems to have turned muttered resentment among some into loud anger, directed not only at the tobacco ban but the entire lockdown.

And, since the loudest opposition has come from white suburbanites, it has revived the familiar conservative argument that a “nanny state” is telling citizens that it knows more about what is good for them than they do.

This complaint says more about the prejudices of those who make it than reality.




Read more:
Lockdown is riling black and white South Africans: could this be a reset moment?


All governments restrict citizens to protect their health and safety: this is why we have traffic lights. And all democracies allow governments to restrict freedoms to protect citizens in an emergency – by, for example, cordoning off areas hit by fire and flood.

The “nanny state” argument expresses a belief that some of us should not be told what to do by those they consider their inferiors.

But this does not mean health measures will be obeyed. It is here that knowledge of society is important.

Erosion of legitimacy

Addictive substances harm health. But knowledge of how humans act in society tells us that, precisely because they are addictive. They can be regulated but banning them never works since addicts find other ways to feed their addiction.

Besides the oft-quoted failure of American prohibition, when white governments in South Africa banned black people from consuming “European liquor”, this created shebeens (speakeasies) which remain a feature.

South Africa’s bans on cigarette and alcohol sales prompted an illicit cigarette trade, the looting of liquor stores and a sharp rise in the price of pineapples which were used to ferment beer.

Dlamini-Zuma’s belief that the ban will prompt “a sizeable number” of people to give up smoking is contradicted by knowledge of society.

This knowledge also tells us that, even among the vast majority who are not addicts, restrictions will fail if they lack legitimacy: people may not like obeying them, but, if they accept they are there for a good reason, they will comply. If they don’t, even thousands of troops will not get them to obey.




Read more:
Pandemics don’t heal divisions — they reveal them. South Africa is a case in point


South Africa’s lockdown rules started with high legitimacy. But it has been eroded and has now dissolved.

The country locked down early, when cases and deaths were relatively few. This creates a legitimacy problem: people must sacrifice yet they do not see the fatalities and overloaded hospitals which influenced citizens of some European countries. But this problem was largely solved because citizens knew – and feared – what was happening elsewhere.

Legitimacy could have remained high if, like some other countries, South Africa’s had done what early lockdowns are meant to do – cut infections and deaths to a handful.

Cooperative Governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Luiz Rampelotto/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

But this was never an option because the scientists who advise the government insisted that restrictions were not meant to stop the virus transmitting, merely to slow it down so that, when the “inevitable” surge arrived, the health system was ready.
They have not been challenged to defend this view because the debate never asks scientists difficult questions. An illustrative example is the claim (which she later clarified) by Professor Glenda Gray, chair of the country’s Medical Research Council, that Soweto’s Baragwanath hospital had no malnutrition cases before the lockdown. But it has created a legitimacy nightmare.

By Ramaphosa’s own admission, South Africa did not use its lockdown to establish the testing and tracing capacity which allowed some countries to beat back Covid-19. But, outside Western Cape Province, it restricted cases to about 11 000 and under 200 deaths by the end of May, figures similar to South Korea’s successful fight against the virus. Even in the Western Cape, there are a few hundred deaths, not the thousands seen elsewhere in the world.

So, the lockdown has been effective enough to ensure that its opponents can demand an end to restrictions without seeming callous. But it has not been effective enough to ensure the drop in infections and deaths which the World Health Organisation – and, initially, the chair of the government’s own medical advisory council – say are needed to phase out restrictions.




Read more:
Coronavirus: corruption in health care could get in the way of Nigeria’s response


The legitimacy which comes from victory over the virus is not available and the official insistence that the restrictions are not meant to stop transmission has handed opponents a good reason to demand that they end even when infections are rising.

Legitimacy has not been eroded among most citizens, who remain deeply concerned about Covid-19. But it has been weakened sufficiently in the policy debate to create an orgy of interest group lobbying for an end to restrictions.

Business began pressing for freedom to operate and has largely succeeded. This set off a chain reaction in which, once one lobby wins, the others smell blood and demand that they too be free to operate.

This lobbying has replaced the veneer of science shrouding government decisions: concessions seem based purely on who shouts loudest. Domestic business travel is allowed, which may allow the virus to spread; religious services are opened although they have been prime spreaders of the virus everywhere; the government has tried to open schools although nearly 2 000 Covid-19 cases are below age 19. Only the tobacco ban remains.

What’s been missing

But the legitimacy of measures to fight Covid-19 is more important than ever because the only chance of curbing it is strict observance by businesses and other institutions of health measures.

The government is reduced to doing what it always does when it loses control – telling citizens they must look after themselves. Because people are worried by Covid-19, those who have access to trade unions or other forms of influence may do that. But, if the virus’s spread is stopped, it will be because people fear it, not because they believe that government measures are legitimate.

This might have been avoided if the government paid as much attention to a knowledge of society as it says it is paying to science.The Conversation

Steven Friedman, Professor of Political Studies, University of Johannesburg

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Like this article? Subscribe to ZA Confidential to receive our newsletters.  Twitter:  @zaconfidential 

 

Ventilators to breathe new life into SA industry

patel
A breath of fresh air from Minister Ebrahim Patel

By John Fraser

When the C19 virus first flew into SA, we had no industry producing medical ventilators.   Trade Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel says we will soon be making 20 000 a month. 

Although he declined to name them in a media briefing, Friday, he said that three local producers have been chosen, following an extensive selection process, which involved ensuring that the devices can be used as safely as imported units.

“Production is starting in June,”  he said.   “And we will reach 20 000 by August if all goes well.

“SA’s National Ventilator Project was launched in April, when we found the global market was depleted and prices were rising.”

Patel said there was a really strong outpouring of support from car component manufacturers, appliance manufacturers, as well as innovators and science councils.

As well as meeting high standards, the ventilators must be flexible for use in field hospitals, as well, and must be affordable.

“Normally it takes 3 years to ramp up,” said Patel.  “We seek to reduce it to 3 months, with full-on production in July.”

The Solidarity Fund has been used to buy masks and has also provided seed funding for the ventilator initiative.    It is looking, with other funders, to make a purchase order to the order of 20 000 units.

The Treasury is being asked to fund additional purchases – and the aim is for the manufacturers to permanently stay in business and to start to export.

“As the disease ramps up, we are looking at producing more ventilators,” said Patel, suggesting this presents a big manufacturing opportunity.

Meanwhile, the local manufacturing sector has been producing high-quality medical masks.

Some 25m will have been made in May.  By the end of June, the output will jump to 1m a day.

Ford is producing face shields – supplied free of charge to the public sector.

Sasol is devoting its entire ethanol production for hand sanitiser, which is also being produced by some of the larger alcohol producers.

Patel said SA is already supplying PPE to neighbouring countries and rest of the Continent, and this will grow.

“We must ensure the infection does not spread across the region, and we need to show social solidarity,” he said.

“Africa must have the capacity to produce, and must never again be subjected to the shortages we have seen.    Already, 150m litres of sanitiser has been exported from SA to elsewhere in the Continent. ”

Millions of face masks have also been sent to health-care workers in neighbouring countries.

This export drive presents a big future opportunity for SA firms, which will be entrenched once the African Continental Free Trade Area is implemented.   It is delayed by the C19 virus, but efforts are underway to set a new launch date.

Like this article? Subscribe to ZA Confidential to receive our newsletters.  Twitter:  @zaconfidential 

Give me a supermarket trolley with flame throwers, please

Flame
My version of social distancing

By John Fraser

I have written before about the ignorant morons – staff and customers – who infest the supermarkets in which I shop during this 21st Century version of the Black Death.

There is normally sanitiser available for hands and trolley handles, but social distancing? Near impossible.

Today I stormed out of my local branch of Pick ‘n Pay – or should that be Pick ‘n Plague? I did try, using my trolley as a barrier, avoiding busy aisles, waiting patiently while people set up tent in just the area from which I needed to pluck my gourmet-select bread and gruel.

Boy, was I funny?  People found it so amusing that someone wished to keep himself – and them – as safe as possible.

Eventually, the crowding in the aisles, the total ignorance and indifference to social distancing, drove me out.

I left my trolley in situ, and left. Situ ain’t safe.

On instead to my local Spar. A more spacious store, but still full of people who wished to infect me. Soon after I entered, one staff member approached me and I held out an arm to indicate she should keep her distance. Oh, no. She gave me a friendly fist punch, making skin-to-skin contact, potentially infecting me with the killer virus.

A complaint to the manager secured an apology, and I took another dose of sanitiser. Maybe Trump’s idea of drinking bleach isn’t so stupid, after all. It’s probably safer than entering a South African supermarket

Before heading out to shop, I had watched our Trade, Industry and Competition Czar Ebrahim Patel informing MPs that infections among supermarket workers are 10 times the norm.

If the general population were to reach that scale of infection, it would overwhelm our country’s pathetically inadequate healthcare system (my definition, not Patel’s).

To conclude this brief, – but heartfelt – rant, I had to act like a grumpy, loudmouthed shit to keep myself safe.

The public – black, white, yellow, green and silver – doesn’t seem to understand the risk, and stores do not seem to be getting the message to their workers. 

Who are already more at risk, even without their stupid behaviour.

So I am opening up a tender for a supermarket trolly, armed with a battery of flame throwers.

It may sound cruel to burn others to a crisp as I meander along supermarket aisles, but it is not as if these morons would not kill themselves before long.

Be warned.

Like this article? Subscribe to ZA Confidential to receive our newsletters.  Twitter:  @zaconfidential 

Wine tasting podcast. Bonnievale Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

bonnievale

By John Fraser

I despise the current prohibition imposed by the Soviet-inspired Command Council in South Africa.   This podcast is not intended to annoy those of us who are fast running out of booze, and are prohibited from buying any more.

Our intention, instead, is to serve as a reminder of a time when a group of chums could get together and relish a few glasses of the red stuff.

Michael Olivier, sommelier to the stars, poured out the Bonnievale Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 to a receptive bunch.

Guest tasters were analyst Chris Gilmour, brander Jeremy Sampson, and technical supremo Malcolm MacDonald.

We also chatted about the merits of online purchasing, a pleasure allowed in SA at the moment unless you want to buy booze and ciggies.

Click below for a brief return to civilisation.

Like this podcast? Subscribe to ZA Confidential to receive our newsletters.  Twitter:  @zaconfidential  

Do also check out:  http://www.michaelolivier.co.za

South Africa’s COVID-19 strategy needs updating: here’s why and how


South Africa’s hard, extended lockdown has come at a significant economic cost. Shutterstock

Imraan Valodia, University of the Witwatersrand; Alex van den Heever, University of the Witwatersrand; Lucy Allais, University of the Witwatersrand; Martin Veller, University of the Witwatersrand; Shabir Madhi, University of the Witwatersrand, and Willem Daniel Francois Venter, University of the Witwatersrand

Decision-making at the early stages of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (the coronavirus causing COVID-19) was constrained by a paucity of medical evidence and epidemiological data. Knowledge gained over the past two months can, therefore, inform the next phase of the strategy.

In the context of the initial uncertainty, South Africa’s early lockdown was prudent. It allowed time to prepare the health care system, to ramp up wide-spread testing and to introduce other measures to reduce transmission rates. Extending the lockdown is no longer required. It is also no longer reducing transmission rates and has become unaffordable.

Current evidence indicates that:

  • It is impossible to eliminate the virus and the spread will continue. Only a few countries have been able to minimise the rate of spread but they remain highly susceptible to repeated outbreaks.
  • The majority, approximately 70%, of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic or have a moderate, self-limiting illness (approximately 25%). The 5% who develop severe COVID-19, with the risk of dying, are usually older than 65 years (greater than 80%) or have underlying comorbidities (such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity).
  • Children under 18 years are generally spared from developing severe COVID-19 and contribute less than 1% of all COVID-19 deaths (none among the more than 30,000 COVID-19 deaths in Italy).
  • It is not likely that a vaccine will become available in the near future. Without this, control of the infection would require about 60% of the population to develop immunity. This will take time and while there is considerable uncertainty over the number of deaths that may occur from COVID-19 over the next two years, current evidence suggests that it may be less than originally estimated.
  • An extended lockdown comes with substantial health costs. These include costs brought about by undermining public health initiatives such as immunising children against threatening diseases and in the impaired provision of health services to those living with comorbidities such as diabetes, tuberculosis (TB), HIV and hypertension. Indeed, there is evidence that currently the gains made over recent years in reducing the rates of, and deaths from TB are being reversed.

Read more: Coronavirus risks forcing South Africa to make health trade-offs it can ill afford


  • SARS-CoV-2 is highly infectious, with a reproduction rate every four days of roughly 2.5 at the onset of the outbreak. The reproduction rate measures the number of people to whom an infected person will pass on the virus. When South Africa introduced the lockdown, the reproduction rate was low relative to other countries. However, South Africa’s reproduction rate has remained above 1, even under a highly restrictive lockdown. Indications are it will remain above 1 at least for the foreseeable future.
  • The hard, extended lockdown has come at a significant economic cost. While there is debate about the cost to date, with estimates from 5%-16% of GDP, economists agree that this has been significant.
  • The lockdown has also imposed social costs. For example, children are missing out on schooling. This is detrimental for their cognitive development and for many other reasons. Children are at risk of becoming malnourished due to missing out on school feeding schemes, as well as from the increasing number of families that are being pushed into poverty.

Read more: Why South Africa needs to ensure income security beyond the pandemic


South Africa needs to accept that it is not on a unique trajectory. The virus cannot be eliminated. The country’s strategy needs to move away from a hard lockdown. In our view, South Africa should focus on using interventions aimed at slowing the virus’ transmission rate.

The success of these interventions depends on the buy-in and cooperation of citizens. The message to South Africa must be clear: It is not going to be spared deaths from COVID-19. But it is possible to prevent some of these through our own actions and by promoting strategic public health interventions.
South Africa should plan to mitigate the effects of the pandemic using the above strategies for at least two years, or until a vaccine becomes available.

Areas of uncertainty

There are two important areas of additional uncertainty. The first is that it is too early to establish the effect of COVID-19 on people living with HIV. But emerging evidence appears to be reassuring. People living with HIV who are on antiretroviral treatment do not appear to be at an increased risk.

Secondly, South Africa is not achieving the testing levels or reporting speeds required to contain the spread through diagnosis and contact-tracing. This gets harder as infection rates rise. Without this, it is unlikely that the country will stay ahead of the epidemic.

South Africa’s strategic thinking should, therefore, be informed by the following:

  • The need to minimise infection in vulnerable, high-risk groups and, where possible, to minimise deaths from COVID-19. This requires clear communication on the actual threat of the virus, preventative strategies, and slowing the spread of the virus to levels that spare the healthcare system and the economy while preventing the economic effects themselves from causing death.
  • It is not possible to contain the spread through lockdowns, because of the economic cost and the fact that it is not possible to keep the reproduction rate at consistently low levels easing lockdown.

It is therefore vital that the country develops strategies to control the virus and simultaneously manage the health, social and economic implications without resorting to further lockdowns.

Economic strategy

We suggest that South Africa move rapidly to stage 2 lockdown and that a risk-assessed framework be adapted. We propose that such a framework permit all economic activity, except where there is a clear and material threat to public health. The other exception is activities that pose a high risk of transmission over a short period of time, for example, mass gatherings or transmission hotspots.

The framework should specify, by exception, any economic activity not allowed on public health grounds. This would see the reopening of critical areas of the economy coupled with current behavioural and societal mechanisms to slow the viral spread.

Within this framework, we also suggest that:

  • The health of workers should be a high priority. Precautions with respect to the protection of healthcare workers and protocols in healthcare settings require careful attention.
  • Regulations should specify employer responsibilities to ensure that the opening up of the economy does not result in flareups of infections.
  • Retail opening hours be extended to reduce density and exposure to the virus, with early pensioner-only hours.
  • The frequency of public transport services be increased to enable movement subject to the adoption of health protocols. These protocols can be enhanced as necessary.
  • The hours of work for accessing public services be extended to make it possible for the population to access services in ways consistent with health protocols.
  • For now, international travel for leisure should not be allowed.

The health risks associated with this economic strategy should be premised on effective strategies to mitigate the rapid rate of transmission of the virus. This is best achieved by:

  • Reinforcing physical distance measures in settings where people have no option but to gather, and paying attention to ventilation. In the case of busses and taxis, windows should be opened to prevent prolonged contact with potentially contaminated air.
  • Reinforcing evidence-based public health measures like hand washing. This should include providing sanitation to all communities.
  • The continued use of face masks for all outside of the home. Reusable masks must be made available to all communities free of charge.

This list is not exhaustive but sets parameters which can guide an adaptation to level 2.

The ability of the country to avert the possible full impact of the virus will only succeed if all citizens of South Africa cooperate willingly with measures aimed at slowing the rate of transmission. If that does not happen, the full might of this virus will manifest itself sooner rather than later, irrespective of the level of official lockdown.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

Like this article? Subscribe to ZA Confidential to receive our newsletters.  Twitter:  @zaconfidential 

The Myth of the Mask

img_5106
We still know it’s you, Cyril

By John Fraser

I get a lot of dirty looks when I go shopping,  But that’s better than getting just one dirty C-19 germ.

You see, I don’t want to catch this killer virus, and if I am already carrying it, I really don’t want to infect anyone else.

Yet it seems I am in a minority.

Walk into most stores and supermarkets, and it is virtually impossible to keep a safe distance from staff and other customers.  

True, they will spray your hands with sanitiser when you enter the emporium, but that ain’t going to help when somebody coughs ferociously.  While standing right next to you.

Staff huddle in clusters near the tills.  In both Woolworths. and Checkers I have run out of fingers on one hand when making a tally of members of the same group of anti-social non-distancers.

Adjacent tills are opened up, instead of spacing the cashiers, and it is impossible to pass through the checkout without getting dangerously close to the packer.  or the person on the neighbouring till.

Hence my fear of the myth of the mask.

Customers and staff alike seem to believe that if they have a bit of fabric over their face, they will be fine.      Not so.

There is some protection – much, much better than nothing. 

But you are playing Russian roulette with your own life and with the lives of others if you over-rely on any mask.  An ostrich with its head in the sand may feel safe.   And yet most of those I encounter make ostriches seem like Mensa members.,

Which is why I use my trolley as a weapon, to keep the pox-ridden hordes at bay.

I switch aisles if it looks unsafe – and try to avoid shelf-stackers, who show little or no understanding of the concept of social distancing.

I shout at people if they look as if they are coming too close.

More than once I have been told how rude I am.

No problem.   

I would rather be rude than stupid.  And dead.

Like this article? Subscribe to ZA Confidential to receive our newsletters. Twitter: @zaconfidential