COVID-19 has not disappeared
Don’t drop your guard22nd Nov 2020
We’re all tired of wearing masks, not hugging our friends, and washing our hands till they dry up and look (and feel) like sandpaper. But we just have to look at what’s happening in the northern hemisphere to realise that this is not the time to drop our guard.
Is Covid really such a big deal?
The problem with taking careful precautions is that the very success of these precautions can lead to a false sense of security. The logic goes like this: ‘I have been wearing a mask, washing my hands, avoiding my friends and family, and spraying enough sanitiser to form a permanent “cloud sanitaire” around my head. And I don’t personally know anyone who’s succumbed to Covid. So, really, is it all just a waste of time?’
No, it’s not! The reason you don’t (or hardly) know anyone who has Covid is precisely because you – and most of the people you know – have been taking these precautions. And it’s when we get tired of being constantly on guard that we succumb. There’s a second wave happening in Europe, and it seems there may be one in the Western Cape too. So now is not the time to slack off.
The Western Cape’s second wave
In early October a Cape Town nightclub, which had rebranded itself as a bar in order to be allowed to operate, advertised cut-price drinks that – hardly surprisingly – attracted a bumper attendance of young, bored teens and twenty-somethings. The marketing strategy worked exactly as planned. The club management insists that all protocols were in place, but we all know that teenagers plus alcohol is a combination that is not usually associated with disciplined, responsible behaviour. Epidemiologists have traced 113 new cases of COVID-19 to the super-spreader event, 38 of whom were supposed to be writing matric exams.
Possibly even scarier, as lockdown restrictions have eased, and people start stretching their wings and head away from the cities, there has already been an increase in infections in the Garden Route. According to GRDM Director of Health, Zee Brickles, there was a 196% increase in the first two weeks of October.
Europe’s second wave
Germany, France and Belgium have recently announced new lockdowns in order to try to contain a spike in infections, and other European countries may well follow suit, even though some politicians are optimistically burying their heads in the sand hoping ‘it will all go away’. Spain’s infections are rising rapidly, and so are those in the UK, with epidemiologists at the Imperial College London estimating that the real rate is about five times higher than the official one.
Scarily – and particularly scarily as we approach the traditional summer holiday period – a euronews report indicates that the spike in many countries was largely due to the increase in tourism associated with the end of lockdown, and the desire for northern Europeans to escape to the sunny south as winter approaches. Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, suggested that holidaymakers had brought the virus to countries like Greece that – until recently – had been relatively unscathed. And, paradoxically, returning tourists may have increased infections in countries like Austria and Germany, which had managed to contain infections quite effectively. The bottom line is, really, we don’t know for sure, but it doesn’t look good.
So what now?
Sadly, there is no magic silver bullet, elixir or miracle drug, and a vaccine is still – while not quite science fiction – in the future, despite the optimistic reports. The only way we can protect ourselves, our friends, family, fellow residents, employees and fellow citizens is to just keep on. Keep on washing hands, keep on sanitising, keep on wearing that mask, keep on keeping your distance. Yes, it’s boring, and it’s hard to breathe through a mask – but not as hard as it is to breathe through a ventilator in ICU.
And, tempting as it is to venture out into the big wide world, be cautious. You are so fortunate to stay on a wonderful estate where you can probably go for long walks or runs or just generally enjoy being a homebody. And if you do feel the need for a holiday (and let’s admit it, we all do), think long and hard about exploring the wonders that lie just beyond the estate wall. It’s amazing how few people appreciate the beauty in their own back yards. Do you know that, for example, more than half the people living in Cape Town have never been on Table Mountain?