The Mercury

Lockdown is doing more harm than good


THE LOCKDOWN was never meant to do anything more than buy us time to prepare – to allow the public health system to adjust, to stock up on medication, to initiate testing and special counter-measures.

Unfortunat­ely, it appears that many South Africans and government officials are under the impression that the lockdown is some form of a cureall. It is nothing of the sort.

It cannot prevent the second and third wave of infections that will undoubtedl­y arrive come winter, and it cannot continue being extended if our economy and way of life is to survive.

Although a return to normal is not possible, and physical distancing and other measures will be in place for a very long time, the cost of extending the lockdown must be weighed against the inevitable collapse in economic activity that will result.

Given that for most South Africans, adapting to a world where the only economic activities will be online jobs, is neither practical nor possible over the short term, nor is it readily apparent what unskilled labour is expected to do during the crisis.

Getting out of lockdown is essential to combat the impact of the virus upon the economy, on people’s lives and livelihood­s, and to avoid the continued abuse of state power by the SANDF.

Many of the measures in place have little scientific or health merit. Preventing people from playing in their yards, from jogging outdoors, or engaging in other activities such as drinking alcohol, that presumably might risk the spread of the virus, is not ideal.

Faced with the prospect that a working vaccine might be ready in September, only in six months time, South Africa has an unenviable task: that of weighing all the options, examining the case for and against an extension of the five-week lockdown.

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