LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Why Covid-19 isn’t a high priority for South Africans

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There may be other more pressing reasons why South Africans aren't that concerned about Covid-19, writes Alan Wainwright.


Recently, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said, the "Cabinet is concerned that some South Africans are behaving recklessly as if Covid-19 no longer exists". I have absolutely no doubt of the truthfulness of this statement. However, we need to consider the reasons for this. 

In my opinion, South Africans have bigger concerns plaguing them. Two of those that are uppermost on the minds of South Africans are crime and unemployment.

South Africa has the third-highest crime rate in the world, following Venezuela and Papua New Guinea. We have the highest rape rate in the world, and have the 10th-highest murder rate in the world. Besides that, South Africa has one of the highest, if not the highest, unemployment rates in the world. Our economy was also downgraded to junk status at the beginning of April 2020.

These issues affect every one of us. This is why South Africans don't consider Covid-19 to be dangerous and "carry on as normal".

We have other very serious matters to contend with every day. I have merely highlighted some of the pressing issues that we have to deal with as South Africans. There are many others, some forced on us by the government and government departments, whether through legislation or through inept service.

With this in mind, I have to ask our government, who is being reckless? Why have they allowed South Africa to reach such an incredibly low state of affairs? Why aren't they dealing with these serious matters as concisely as they are trying to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic? It seems to me that they're shirking their responsibilities of these other matters by focusing our attention on Covid-19. We don't shut the country down to lower the crime rate. Why should the country be shut down for Covid-19, with its recovery rate of more than 90%?

Am I downplaying the dangers of Covid-19? Absolutely not! I have had close friends who have been in ICU and others have died from it. It is a real danger and I do advocate wearing a mask, physical distancing and the sanitising of our hands.

I'm merely trying to bring it into perspective against other issues that we South Africans face on a daily basis, and to show why South Africans don't see it as a priority.

- Alan Wainwright

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