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  • Writer's picturegraeme

COVID REFLECTIONS: The President speaks

My South African friends who are once again ranting about our government, can we at least stick to the facts while we let off some steam.

Our government started well. South Africa put a travel ban in place very early and went into Lockdown earlier than most countries. The stated objective was to prepare our medical system.

The government has not been good at communicating what they have done. And they’ve also messed up a lot of it.

Let’s start by seeing what they have done: * They prepared the hospitals with Covid protocols, * increased the amount of beds available, * procured thousands of ventilators, * and hundreds of thousands of units of PPE, * they brought in foreign doctors, * they built field hospitals, * they created thousands of quarantine facilities, * they trained and deployed 28,000 community screeners (something that is now considered world standard by the WHO - these people have been converted from focusing on AIDS to Covid-19 very quickly), * they have ensured we have one of the highest testing rates in the world and continue to improve that, * they negotiated with private hospitals to take the overflow from public facilities, * they’ve worked well with the private sector to create many of these facilities and resources, and more.

The President outlined some of that tonight.

He should have been talking about this a lot more and a lot earlier than just tonight. For some people it is too late. They’ve had enough of the government and won’t see anything good at all. They’ll flatly deny or reject my list above.

But it’s tough to argue with one of the key indicators that we have done some things well in preparing our medical systems: our comparatively low mortality rate.

Even some of the most resourced countries in the world are battling to handle the Covid surge when it hits.

Yes, the government could have done more. It could be much worse too.

Yes, some of what the government has done has been ridiculous. And we could put an equally long list here, from cigarette sale bans to defining what kinds of vests and shoes we could buy. Some government ministers have definitely not been focused on what they should have been.

Yes, our systems were bruised and battered before all of this started. Our public medical system in particular might have collapsed completely quite quickly, and very few of us would have been surprised.

Yes, the ANC has a lot to answer for in cadre deployments of people who don’t really know what they’re doing in key portfolios (this excludes Dr Mkhize and Pravin Gordhan).

But, no, it is not as if nothing has been done. Let’s keep some perspective here.

Too many people sound as if they’re using their Covid-fatigue and disillusionment with some of what government has done, to completely ignore everything that is being attempted at the moment, and to undermine what needs to be done to survive the growing surge we’re all part of at the moment.

Whatever you think of the SA government, we all still need to play our part to overcome the crises we are in. Now is the time to stick together, to take responsibility and be responsible citizens - whether our government has earned that from us or not.

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