CRUNCH TIME FOR COVID

Financial Mail - - EDITORIALS -

Apan­demic like Covid-19 is a once-in-a-cen­tury event. It’s no sur­prise, then, that try­ing to make sense of the ex­plo­sion of cases, and how this will re­shape our coun­try and world, is per­plex­ing.

SA, Gaut­eng and the Eastern Cape in par­tic­u­lar, are in the eye of the storm. The daily num­ber of new in­fec­tions now puts SA fourth in the world: 8,971 new cases were an­nounced on Mon­day. We lag only the US, In­dia and Brazil. To put that in con­text, on the very worst day of Italy’s epi­demic on March 21 it had 6,553 cases.

This week, SA’S to­tal num­ber of in­fec­tions breached the 200,000 mark: though it took 110 days to reach 100,000 cases, it has taken just 14 to dou­ble that. The hu­man and eco­nomic toll is set to be in­cal­cu­la­ble, from sky-high un­em­ploy­ment to a higher in­ci­dence of de­pres­sion and sui­cide. Add to that a com­pletely gut­ted health sys­tem, and it’s no sur­prise that fear is the dom­i­nant emo­tion.

July will be a de­ci­sive month. With fewer re­stric­tions, the re­spon­si­bil­ity to curb the spread of the virus sits with each of us.

There can be no more space for a self­ish re­fusal to wear masks, just as there’s no more scope for the gov­ern­ment to mess up re­lief pay­ments. It’s down to the wire.

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