No choice but to heed restrictions until mass vaccinations

President Cyril Ramaphosa announces that the country will move to lockdown level 3. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announces that the country will move to lockdown level 3. File photo.
Image: GCIS

This winter we are facing a perfect storm. Understandably, after more than a year of strictures there is widespread Covid fatigue even as the colder weather is driving people indoors. Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout has been far too slow to prevent the virus spreading in communities.

For all our sakes, we have to heed the level 3 lockdown regulations that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced earlier this week in response to this third wave of infections.

We need to protect each other and ensure the healthcare system is not swamped with serious cases by maintaining social distance, avoiding unnecessary socialising, wearing masks in public and sanitising. 

These basics are also the one way to avoid the government being forced to impose even stricter lockdown measures that would seriously impact on the slowly recovering economy as well as the education sector.

This is not to say that there are no grounds to sharply criticise the government’s management of the pandemic.

From the irrational regulations promulgated in 2020 and the initial heavy-handed enforcement of the lockdown to endemic PPE corruption, the opposite is true.

The government also cannot escape blame for the third wave.

Right now, what is needed is for as many people as possible to be quickly vaccinated.

The planned vaccine rollout has been impeded by external factors — the AstraZeneca vaccine proved inadequate against the new variant of the virus in SA and production problems in the US affected the anticipated supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

However, had the government not been so tardy in securing adequate vaccine supplies in 2020, SA would have been in a far better situation.

Instead of by now having inoculated most frontline workers and those with comorbidities, fewer than two-million people have received a vaccine and many of them still need a second jab.

We are a long way from herd immunity.

The experience of countries such as Israel, the United Kingdom and the US which have successfully inoculated a mass of citizens demonstrates vaccination works, drastically reducing hospital admissions, deaths and, critically, the spread of the virus.

For us to return to an approximation of normal life, the government has to speed up inoculations.

Meanwhile, we must all take the uttermost care to stay safe and not become another statistic in this unwelcome third wave.



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