COVID-19 in South Africa: Navigating social solidarity in a time of social distancing

RESEP’s Ronelle Burger today published an article in the Daily Maverick calling for South African’s to stand together and adhere to the President’s recent announcements on precautionary measures to stem the spread of the Coronavirus. The piece details the ways in which COVID-19 might or might not affect people differently in the South African context than it has in other countries. For instance, Burger asserts, “we don’t know why, when infected, children’s symptoms are less severe, nor are we sure how long post-illness immunity will last. In South Africa specifically, the fear is how fast the disease will spread in a country where several of the risk factors are present… many of our citizens may struggle with implementing the President’s regular handwashing regime because they lack access to running water in their homes and cannot afford waterless hand sanitizer.”

 

 

Burger warns that “this will not be the last global pandemic we will see; all indications suggest that global pandemics will become a semi-regular occurrence”. She further notes that although many of the current predictions and outlooks on the effects of CONVID-19 are alarmist, the conservative approach is still entirely warranted: “We will need to think about this as a potentially recurring problem and find innovative and robust ways to stick together and fight communicable diseases.”

 

Burger proposes that “it is a time to show our true colours and practise compassion, solidarity and kindness.” Furthermore, although measures are in place for our society’s most vulnerable, many will still “fall through the cracks”. South Africans of all walks of life, NPOs and religious groups ought to keep an eye out for those who most need their help. “Pandemics”, Burger continues, “remind us of the invisible string that ties us all together even when we continue to live separate lives.”