I made a prediction earlier this year, much earlier, that we would all be out of masks in South Africa by December. It is fast starting to appear that I am wrong.
The past two days I have had the opportunity to venture outdoors on two occasions. The first was an attempt to capture a decent sunset image on Saturday evening which took me past the entertainment areas opposite the local golf course.
The second was very early Sunday morning which would have allowed me a view of the sunrise had the cloud cover allowed it. This occasion took me to the local pier, a popular spot for walkers, joggers, cyclists and those just wanting to enjoy the outdoors.
On Sunday morning, the ratio of mask users versus non-mask users was around the 50-50 mark. Very few of those seeking physical exertion were wearing a mask – and that is hardly a surprise. Amongst those in the area for reasons that were purely recreational mask use was reasonably high.
Concerning was the jaunt on Saturday evening. In the parking spaces and at the braai areas social distancing was not even remotely attempted. The complete lack of any attempt at social distancing was backed up with an utter absence of masks. I don’t mean that masks were under the chin or around the neck, but instead that there were none even visible in their non-use.
There are only two scenarios that will emerge from this behaviour, while we seen a continued decline in the wearing of masks. It will either matter not at all that no-one is wearing masks or the exact opposite and there will be a predictable and steady series of infections both at these social occasions and being carried to the workplace the following week.
This situation has already been addressed internationally, the result being named “Super Spreader Events” where one or more infected individuals are in attendance at group events. The results are depressingly predictable.
In Arkansas, in the United States, a pastor and his wife attended a religious event with both showing symptoms some days later. Before these symptoms developed, they attended other events, including a bible study. In total there were 92 people involved, resulting in 35 confirmed COVID cases and three deaths.
There’s a whole lot of similar stories in this article. The common theme throughout is that where people gather, the virus is part of the interaction and entirely predictable results follow. I could continue linking articles in this fashion, but a quick online search for these Super Spreader Events will produce the same results for you.
What we need to do is ask ourselves whether we truly believe South Africa is somehow immune where other countries are not. Are we able to so easily discard our masks and sanitiser and disregard medical (not political) advice on a very real illness?
I know well that infection rates and mortality rates are far from the same thing when it comes to the virus in question. Our medical fraternity have learned a great deal over the months since our original lockdown at the end of March. The question that needs to be asked now though is simple. How sure are you that, if you are infected, you will survive?
That’s the crux at this point, far fewer people will die than originally expected, and we have a relatively good idea of who the most vulnerable are – but we don’t know for sure.
Before you allow yourself to be pressured into following the crowd and ditching your mask and social distance, ask the question about whether these actions are worth the potential results.
On a final note, on 20 September back in 2012, a man named Mullet was sentenced to 15 years in prison, along with three of his sons and a daughter as well as 11 of his followers. The sentences for the rest of the group varied between a year and seven years – all for beard cutting.
The group all have one thing in common, all were Amish. Mullet, 66 years old at the time of sentencing, was the leader of a ultra-conservative sect which sought to separate themselves from modern life to an even greater degree than those of the Amish beliefs already do. Mullet and his followers sought to exact some form of vengeance or justice upon those they felt had slighted them by attacking them and cutting their hair and beards, both important to their religious beliefs.
All prosecuted were convicted for hate crimes.