The DA in the Eastern Cape says another hard lockdown for the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro will be a disaster for its people who, like the rest of the country, suffered hugely from in the initial restrictions to contain the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Jane Cowley, the party’s spokesperson on health in the province, was responding to the metro’s acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye’s warning to residents that stricter measures could be imposed if the second wave gets out of control.
As of Wednesday, the metro had recorded 1 707 active cases of Covid-19 and 400 new infections in just a day.
The metro has been the virus hotspot in the Eastern Cape since the pandemic outbreak in March. So far there are 25 188 confirmed cases, 22 296 recoveries and 1 120 deaths. Following closely is the Buffalo City Metro, with 21 303 confirmed cases, 20 270 recoveries and 914 deaths.
Cowley said the pandemic had been poorly managed in the metro and the province and a hard lockdown would not assist. Instead this would bring more misery to the province economically which could lead to even more people losing jobs.
“The first hard lockdown was not managed well. It did not serve its purpose and I hardly see how it’s going to serve its purpose the second time around. At some point people have to come out of hiding and live with Covid-19 and rebuild the economy.
“The economy is in dire state, worse than ever anticipated. And its because of a few people who have not obeyed protocols and have parties not wearing masks and not practicing social distancing.
“I find it unbelievable that they would punish the whole metro for the ill-discipline of a few dozen people who have now created a second wave,” Cowley said.
“The economy cannot handle the lockdown anymore. It just cannot. We will never recover financially if we go into a hard lockdown again. I think what needs to happen is more education around compliance, in terms of wearing masks, sanitising and keeping social distance, particular with the younger people at schools and universities,” she said.
Buyeye warned residents that if the second wave got out of control, stricter measures would be introduced to save lives. “A harder lockdown is not ideal but to save lives, this option might need to be explored again as the numbers are increasing rapidly.
“In just one day this week, we had close to 400 new infections. Unfortunately, the infections go with deaths and we have seen even the deaths in the country have surpassed the 19 000 mark,” he said.
“The only reason we are battling a second wave now is because of non-compliance. People are not complying, in businesses, restaurants and social gatherings. They have thrown away their masks thinking that the virus is over.
“We are not happy at all with the current picture. We are warning residents that the second wave could be more deadly than the first wave if they do not change their ways.”
Shane Brown, the metro’s disaster management chairperson, said behavioural change was needed now more than ever as the country heads towards the festive season.
“We would like to warn our residents that should the numbers continue to rise, President Cyril Ramaphosa will have no choice but to enforce stricter measures. The last thing we need is to lose control of the virus. We are fast approaching 2 000 active cases [a day] now. Shockingly, we recorded close to 400 new infections on Wednesday alone,” Brown said.
“People are infecting each other and we are heading towards the festive season. All around the world, no one has experience on how to deal with this virus during the festive season. During the last festive season, it was only China that had Covid-19 cases. We are faced with a crisis. We urge residents to stick to the regulations.
“Restaurants, shopping centres and businesses are not complying. We have engaged them, and we will continue to preach compliance messages as this virus is better managed through preventative measures. The law enforcement agencies will also continue to enforce the law,” said Brown.