Is South Africa’s leadership the issue in the fight against COVID-19, or is it the public?

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The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is wreaking havoc around the globe with over 739 000 confirmed cases and over a staggering 35 000 deaths.

As COVID-19 runs rampant across the globe, President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Cabinet made a decision which might see scores of South Africans being spared the full extent of the pandemic, including, economical issues.

On March 23, President Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would go into a national lockdown to try and #flatternthecurve and stunt the spread of the virus.

While many a South African feels the 21-day lockdown was unnecessary, did the Government spare South Africans from going through the same ordeal that Italy, Spain and the United States are currently facing?

Currently, South Africa has 1280 confirmed COVID-19 cases and two confirmed deaths linked to COVID-19.

Italy has a staggering 97,689 confirmed cases and a staggering 10,779 confirmed deaths. Spain, on the other hand, has 80,110 confirmed cases and 6,803 confirmed deaths. The United State has a mind-blowing 142,735 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,489 confirmed deaths. Thus, the early prevention was not only a necessity from Government, it was the humane thing to do, considering what our friends in such mentioned countries are dealing with.

What separates these countries from South Africa?

The first two COVID-19 cases in Italy were reported on January 31. This saw the Italian government suspend all flights to and from China on the same day; while declaring a state of emergency. On February, 11 Italian municipalities were put under quarantine as the virus spread. However, it was only in March that the entire country was put under lockdown.

The United States saw its first COVID-19 cases in January, with the virus going viral in the US. However, it was only in March that the US Government advised against gatherings of more than 10 people, as well as advising people to refrain from international travel and then only going into lockdown.

Spain shares a very similar story as Italy and the US, with the COVID-19 arriving in January already.

While it is still early days and it is difficult to say just how badly COVID-19 will affect South Africa, we as South Africans can rest assured that our government did not gamble with the lives of the general public and wait for more than a month before taking steps to curb the spread of the virus.

Newcastle Mayor, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba has also taken steps to volunteer at the Newcastle Provincial Hospital, offering his services in the fight against COVID-19 if the need arises.

Since President Ramaphosa’s announcement on the nationwide lockdown, shockingly enough, he has received a lot of negative feedback from scores of South Africans.

The Hola Bon Renaissance (HBR) Foundation has gone as far as to file papers in the Constitutional Court, seeking leave to challenge President Cyril Ramaphosa’s order that the country should go into lockdown for 21 days to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

There are even Newcastillians who believe the government has sinister motives for the lockdown. And are therefore treating this global threat to our way of life and life itself as nothing serious.

Newcastle Mayor, Dr Mahlaba’s announcement has also seen a certain degree of negative response, with some people calling it a political stunt. This is despite the potential threat to the mayor’s health if the virus goes viral in Newcastle.

While there are those who applaud both local and national leadership for their decisions during these trying times, it seems there will always be negativity and ignorance.

As our country’s leadership faces negative backlashes for their decisions, reports on social media reflect that not everybody is abiding by the security measures of the national lockdown. People not only seen visiting friends and family freely; but visiting stores freely as well and not adhering to the regulations which have been implemented by the government.

The question now stands, are we as South Africans truly doing our part to curb the spread of COVID-19 or are we too busy looking at ways to blame our leadership for what is happening and once again not taking responsibility instead?

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