We got the family meeting, presidential address, Covid update, whatever you want to call it, on Sunday night. A sudden slide from Level 3 to Level 1 and just like that things are almost “normal”.
This has to be good news, perhaps not a logical level but certainly good news for the psyche – a boost when things are looking grim. Not only that but we now all have presidential permission to get off the couch and get the economy going, unless you’re in the nightclub industry. If you are, then you’re staying on the couch.
I guess it is nice to have presidential permission to “get back to work” but let’s be honest with each other here. South Africa has looked like a duck pond under lockdown. It’s all bobbing ducks on a smooth surface but underneath we’ve all been paddling like mad – some more legally than others.
We didn’t need a presidential seal of approval for efforts to get economic activity going, but we got it anyway.
Thing is, I’m kind of a skeptical kind of person, especially when there is politics involved. In the case of lockdown at level one, we need to consider that 2021 is a very important year for politics in the country – it is a municipal election year. Legally political campaigning can take place under level one, which makes a lot more sense to me than a sudden drop in the infection rate.
As I said, I’m skeptical.
Politics is an important part of the South African landscape and while other parties have made the call to postpone the elections, this stance has been labelled “unconstitutional” and it seems at least the ruling party is keen to get their election campaign underway – virus or no.
The election is months away at this point, but there’s a lot of ground to cover between now and then, so campaigns need to get underway – there are the hearts of voters to be won. I no longer consider political parties wanting to win the minds of voters, it seems rather a long shot that this is where their interest lies.
So we’re nearing the end of the first week under that level one lockdown – which means home by midnight and only allowed out from 04:00. Everyone is still required to wear a mask when leaving home and businesses and gatherings (for whatever reason) are still limited in their numbers. Also, you still can’t drink in public, and this one puzzles me because you’re not allowed to drink in public under normal circumstances anyway.
Things have been getting interesting out there since the vaccines became a thing. First there was the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which was meant to bring some relief to medical and frontline workers – turns out this wasn’t going to work out to well as this particular vaccine isn’t particularly effective when dealing with that mutated strain of Covid that was identified here.
With SA accounting for around a third of all Coronavirus infections on the entire African continent, an effective vaccine is badly needed. This has resulted in a shift to the Johnson & Johnson option and the original shipment of vaccines sold in the African Union (no word on cost difference between purchase and sale that I’ve seen yet).
While the first vaccines have apparently been administered now (70,527 or 0.12% of the SA population at current count), the larger deliveries from J&J are only expected from the beginning of April – and if you put any stock in international news we could still all be wearing masks into 2022.
The reasons for this are answered by Google itself.
- “Does vaccine stop you getting Covid? They add the vaccine doesn’t prevent coronavirus infection. It helps protect against serious illnesses.”
- “Can you spread Covid after getting vaccine? Since scientists haven’t yet found evidence that the vaccines provide mucosal immunity, someone who is vaccinated and has no symptoms of illness may be carrying the live SARS-CoV-2 virus and spreading it to others when they cough, breath or sneeze.”
- “Has anyone got Covid after vaccine? Though it’s rare, you can still catch COVID-19 after getting vaccinated, but research shows milder symptoms and lower transmission.”
- “Do I have to wear a mask after vaccination? But vaccinated people may still carry enough virus in the nose to infect others.”
Medical professionals are being encouraged to register on the Electronic Vaccination Data System to be a part of the vaccination programme – if they want to get vaccinated during the initial rollouts.
Then there’s the matter of fake vaccines – and here I’m not talking about taking Ivermectin (which is not a vaccine, but is used as preventative medication). Most recently there was an Interpol bust in both China and South Africa and there is an expectation that fake vaccines will become more prevalent this year.
On a final note, while everything might seem a bit doom and gloom, it seems living in South Africa does have its benefits. Freedom House recently released their annual “Freedom in the World” report – which has shown a 15th year of decline in freedoms around the world.
In this report, countries are considered “free”, “partly free” or “not free”. South Africa ranks at 79 (points out of 100), slightly behind the United States at 82, but trailing the United Kingdom quite significantly at 93. By comparison with Zimbabwe (28), Mozambique (43) and North Korea (2), we’re not doing badly at all.