Safety measures vital in preventing spread of virus

Test tube with Corona virus name label is seen in this illustration taken on January 29 2020.
Test tube with Corona virus name label is seen in this illustration taken on January 29 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

You have got to love South Africans and the way we handle emotional and mental stress in the midst of a perceived crisis — usually through humour.

News that a South African has tested positive for Covid-19, or coronavirus as it is commonly known, was not exempt from the memes and jokes distributed on social media.

Though one may argue that an epidemic of this nature is no laughing matter, as one Twitter user put it, “if we don’t laugh about it, we may cry”.

As a country, we have many problems ——from corruption and our high crime rate to an inept government and a dire need for professional service delivery.

Last month, while speaking to business leaders in Cape Town, President Cyril Ramaphosa retold a joke that went viral on social media, poking fun at how long it would take to build a hospital in SA compared to China.

The message spoke to the unnecessary bureaucracy that crippled development in SA.

Re-telling the joke, Ramaphosa said: “It said someone would go to the president to say we need a hospital.

“The president would then go to the minister to say we need a hospital.

“The minister would say the first thing we need to do is call a press conference ... by the time it is completed they would say, ‘Here’s the hospital for the virus,’ and the president would ask ‘what virus?’ ”

“It is a challenge, but one that we have created and one we must deal with.”

With coronavirus on our shores, there is no time to build new hospitals and we have to hope our medical industry is well enough equipped to deal with it.

The government is appealing for calm.

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It is important, therefore, that a mature leadership approach be adopted with a measured response to the situation.

It is encouraging to see that Livingstone Hospital — which is the quarantine facility for the Eastern Cape — is fully equipped and the staff ready  to handle the epidemic should the need arise.

However, it is vital that each one of us do our bit to follow prevention methods so that the virus does not spread.

Practise good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water, cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and use alcohol-based sanitisers if possible.

Let us do what we can to protect ourselves and those around us.

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