8 March 2020
The first two cases of coronavirus was reported in SA this week, causing panic and anxiety.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was quick to call on us not to panic, while Health Minister Zweli Mkhize was at pains reassuring the country that we have the situation under control.
Despite the reassurances, many citizens are still skeptical of our government’s ability to arrest the spread of the virus given our dysfunctional public health care system. Granted, this is understandable.
However, the fight against coronavirus will require more than just the government. It is time we unite across political, racial, sectarian and religious lines to ensure that we contain the spread of the virus.
Business, civil society, opposition parties, sporting and cultural organisations, schools and many other stakeholders have a critical role to play at this moment – although we expect the government to take the lead.
We need the clergy, athletes, CEOs and our cultural icons to all work together in the fight against the virus. We can all, in our own corners, do our little in this battle – without, of course, endangering our lives.
We all have a common destiny. We want a united and prosperous future for our country. This virus poses a serious threat to our shared aspirations.
This is no time to use the virus for political point-scoring or brinkmanship. This is no time to spread misinformation to cause panic and confusion. This is no time for irresponsible reporting and fake news.
It is time to unite and spread the education of how we can best protect ourselves against contracting the virus, while giving the best treatment to those who would have contracted it.
The socio-economic impact of this virus is too ghastly to contemplate.
Our government needs a coordinated management and messaging on this critical matter.
We cannot rule out the fact that the virus can spread. It is high time we deal better with this global epidemic; better than we did before the first case was reported.
If there is anything that is going to test our ailing public health system, it is this virus. In the event it spreads, the private health sector would also have the responsibility of not caring only for those who can afford. This global crisis calls for leadership across all sectors and areas of our public life.
Yes, we do need to be critical of our government in areas where it is clearly failing on this matter and ask tough questions.
We all need to put our shoulder to the wheel to arrest the spread of coronavirus and care for those who might have been infected by it – instead of playing the blame game and using the virus as a political football.