Covid-19 in SA: Life is not going to be what it once was, says Prof Karim

Professor Salim Abdool Karim.
Professor Salim Abdool Karim.
Rajesh Jantilal, AFP

The day South Africa recorded its first positive Covid-19 case on 5 March was a day that altered our way of life drastically, and South Africans will not be able to return to their normal way of doing things, says the chief epidemiologist at the centre of the country's Covid-19 fight. 

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, an epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist working with the government in the fight against the coronavirus, has some sobering news: There will be no return to normal.

Covid-19 has drastically altered the way we live now, and it will continue to do so in the future as people become more aware of the everyday preventative measures they need to take.

Watch Karim's full Q&A with News24 here

Harsh truth

Speaking to News24, Karim shared this harsh truth.

"I am sorry to say that life is not going to be what it was like before. Our lives have changed since 5 March when we saw that first case. [Before] then, it was somebody else's problem.

"Our lives, when we go back after this lockdown, are simply not going to be the same," he said. 

"When you go into a business meeting, you will not go and sit right next to the person that you are meeting with. You will automatically now want to keep some kind of distance.

"You will not be shaking hands with the person you are meeting with because you will be deeply concerned that you do not want to be part of spreading this virus."

New environment

Globally, people will need to learn how to live in this new environment, which will be riddled with challenges.

"We are going to have to learn to live in a way where we will lose that soft touch that comes from being close to those we love, those we care about, because in order to protect them we are going to have to keep some distance,” Karim said.

Karim said there will be many other issues that South Africans and the rest world will need to deal with, including medical challenges, mental health challenges and economic challenges.

"Life is not going to be the same, in any shape or form, than what it was when we woke up on the morning of 5 March." 

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