83 days ago, on the March 27, South Africa went into a nationwide lockdown to delay the spread of the Covid-19 virus, while the country readied its response for the storm that was coming. On that day, there were 1280 infections and now 83 days later, there are over 80 000 infections.

According to projections made before the initial lockdown, South Africa cases should be 150 000 now, almost double the current cases. This calculation was made with an under-estimated reproductive number of two and by assuming it takes 7 days for new infections to express.

With new information, we now know that the reproductive number is higher than two and that each Covid-19 infected person would infect more than two new people without preventative measures.

In this regard, South Africa has done well so far.

However, the virus is around and the curve has been steep as the initial projections of the pandemic. This is a critical time in our country and perhaps more critical than April was and yet the government has relaxed lockdown regulations to Level 3. Level 3 allows for greater freedom, trade and movement has return to every South African.

It is quite obvious that complete lockdown for a year or longer is unsustainable. Such a lockdown would bruise and possibly mortally wound all of us, societally and personally. A year might be a realistic expectation for the much anticipated vaccine, the only solution to the crisis.

According to my belief, there are five personal responsibilities that each of us need to bear and embrace in order to make our lives safe and functional until we see a beacon of light that will be the vaccine .

1. The responsibility to social distance and disinfect properly
Regardless of what the government says, we are each responsible for the preventing micro-droplets from entering our noses, eyes or mouths and from passing these on. This means always wearing a mask. Studies show a mask that is well-worn has reasonable efficiency. We also need to treat our hands as “dirty” and constantly wash or disinfect them before touching other people. We need to also to be cognisant of surface areas the virus could be living in.


2. The responsibility to engage in the real world
Recent studies have shown that the risk of losing income outweighs the risk of contracting the virus. The risk of developing complications from Covid-19 are at 5% but the risk of the same person business collapsing if unsupported are 100%. As much as Zoom meeting have saved the world, many industries such manufacturing cannot operate virtually. We need to engage actively and safely in the real world.

3. The responsibility to smile and reach out, even from behind a mask.
A study published out of China in 2011 in the Journal of Social Indicators Research showed that in four major Chinese cities, screen interaction did not increase quality of life as compared to face to face interactions. Human beings are social creatures. We also learn more from one another face-to-face. We need to social distance physically but not emotionally. This means a simple smile or a wave to stranger in a shop or a simple “thank you for working under these conditions” to an essential worker.

4. The responsibility to give, even a little.
This kindness expressed by donors in South Africa has been overwhelming. This is a responsibility we need to embrace daily. Giving a small extra donation can go a long way.

5. The responsibility to commit oneself to evidence-based information only, and to keep learning.
South Africans have been encouraged by our government’s proactive approach to the virus. Politicians have been listening to scientists and experts. Sometimes this exchange is what the world needs. Unfortunately, the world still has ignorant people like American President Donald Trump, spreading fake news and this can only lead to disaster. Covid-19 needs all of us to apply critical thinking and embrace evidence. We need to evaluate the information according to facts and scientific backing.

We need to always remain educated in order to make informed decisions. We need to rise to these individual responsibilities and we will succeed. About the author: Daniel Israel is experienced medical practitioner. His interests are in Diabetes management, Paediatrics and Psychiatry/Psychology. However, his patients regularly attest to his affinity for all branches of medicine.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Briefly.co.za
This article was originally published at: https://briefly.co.za/68287-opinion-medical-practitioner-sa-a-role-play.html