This is the personal perspective of Bernhard Kirschner
My fear, and one of the main motivations for preparing this website in late March 2020 has been my belief that due to the endemic poverty in South Africa will not be able to handle a lockdown.
Strict restrictions have not helped
Stopping "old aunties" from selling their baked mealies and vetkoek on street corners is one way to worsen the situation. Less food, less resistance to chronic diseases. And chronic diseases are not only HIV/AIDS and TB. The down surge in an economy increases poverty, a deepening in poverty that cannot be quantified yet. Daily Maverick 18 May 2020.
There is no buffer between working and starvation, so within three weeks of the lockdown, by the 16 April 2020, many of the poor are starving, then rioting. Hunger, hunger, everywhere.
3 May 2020 Update. Fortunately my fears of uncontrollable riots have not materialised, unless the news has been suppressed, but that of hunger have.
Click here for link to report of "Protests and looting have broken out all over South Africa in recent days in response to one issue: hunger."
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) is responsible for social support for the poor in South Africa in the lockdown. But Sassa's offices were closed for the first four weeks of the national lockdown.
Complicating matters were allegations that wards that voted ANC and families that hide drugs for the gangs are getting preference.
When Dr Grey, a member of the Government Advisory Council Council slams the SA Government lockdown strategy she was in deep trouble. Report
Dr Glenda Gray, a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) and chairperson of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), said the lockdown should be eradicated completely, and that non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI), such as handwashing, wearing masks, social distancing and prohibitions on gatherings, should be put in place.
A household survey out on 15 July reveals that there was an almost immediate net loss of three million jobs between February and April and women accounted for two million of the people who lost their livelihoods as the economy was shut down. "One in five respondents reported that someone in their household went hungry in the last seven days, and 1-in-7 reported that a child had gone hungry in the last seven days." Source.
Every life is valuable, and none should ever be wasted. However when it comes to a choice between losing some, even many of our old, our sick, and unfortunately also our overweight, choices have to be made.
The choice was to try and save a limited number of the old and/or sick, and destroy our economies, or to lose a relatively few lives compared to the lives lost to vehicle accidents, TB, Aids, and even flu by introducing lockdowns and compulsory restrictions like masks, hand washing and distancing.
Our leaders, and supported by the mislead public choose the "saving lives" because it sounded so noble, but damaged our society, maybe for a generation, precipitated the worst economic downturn in history.
We are beginning to see the results of our stupidity.
The below graph from an excellent set of statistics by PANDA a collective of leading actuaries, economists, data scientists, statisticians, medical professionals, lawyers, engineers and business people working as a collective to replace bad science with good science. Link to table source here..
The requirements include:
All cooked or uncooked food parcels to be inspected and approved by environmental health inspectors prior to distribution;
Clear details of what is being distributed, when, and to whom, must be provided to the municipality for sharing with the security cluster.
South Africa decreed an effective total lockdown from 26 March for three weeks, extended by two weeks on 9 April until 30 April 2020.
As at 9 April there were less than 2,000 CO-19 cases with 18 deaths, about the same number who die from TB every TWO HOURS.
"(i) every person is confined to his or her place of residence, unless strictly for the purpose of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, collecting a social grant, pension or seeking emergency, life-saving, or chronic medical attention;
(ii) every gathering, as defined in regulation 1 is hereby prohibited, except for a funeral as provided for in subregulation (8); and .......
(b) During the lockdown, all businesses and other entities shall cease operations, except for any business or entity involved in the manufacturing, supply, or provision of an essential good or service.... and
(c) Retail shops and shopping malls must be closed, except where essential goods are sold and on condition that the person in control of the said store must put in place controls to ensure that customers keep a distance of at least one square meter from each other, and that all directions in respect of hygienic conditions and the exposure of persons to CO-19 are adhered to.
(d) Retail stores selling essential goods is prohibited from selling any other goods."
How SA can get back to normal with the least CO-19 mortality
All people in all lockdown levels would have to understand and follow the below behaviour rules.
However from statistics worldwide as at 3 October 2020 these precautions would appear to be almost ineffective at preventing virus spread, except maybe the first three, while they are just damaging to the economy and health of all.
There should be different lockdown levels, not so much as to prevent spread, but to prevent public anger who might realise that the whole lockdown effort was a wasteful exercise compared to any benefit. Different areas could have different lockdown restrictions as small as an address, a block a suburb or a council area.