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100 Days: ‘How SA Squandered The Lockdown’

100 days of lockdown: Did we buy time, or did we merely postpone the pain?

On Thursday the Gauteng department of health confirmed that all public hospitals in the country’s economic heartland were filled to capacity. On the same day the Western Cape provincial government warned that the mortality rate in the province will be comparable to that of New York City, one of the epicentres in the United States. And earlier in the week the provincial government of the Eastern Cape asked for help from national government because it feared being “overwhelmed”.

Gauteng’s infection curve is skyrocketing, the Western Cape seems to be building towards another peak and the Eastern Cape is quickly being enveloped. All of this has happened in the three months or so since South Africa was forced into lockdown, and we’ve had to unlearn many of the social conventions we’ve become used to.

The lockdown hasn’t only shut down our economy, sending GDP growth tumbling and seeing unemployment worsen, it has also mercilessly exposed the state. Hospitals, clinics, infrastructure, leadership, governance, procurement, planning…there is nowhere to hide from Covid-19. The purpose of the lockdown was to “flatten the curve”, to push out peak infection in order for authorities to prepare for the coming surge.

But as News24 has reported before, it doesn’t seem as if we have enough beds, or protective equipment, nor doctors and nurses at the ready. And in Gauteng and the Western Cape the brunt of the pandemic, which has already seen almost 160 000 infected, with almost 3 000 deaths, still has to hit.

In this week’s edition of News24’s Friday Briefing Professor Alex van den Heever assesses the situation we’re in and considers South Africa’s strategic approach. We also publish an anonymous letter in which the author speaks about her anger while waiting for her Covid-19 result, and DA leader John Steenhuisen holds up the DA-controlled Western Cape as an example of how the virus can be battled. We also bring you an open letter from a principal of a school in Cape Town who writes that schools should remain closed. 

Have a good weekend, and stay safe.

Pieter du Toit

Assistant Editor: In-depth news

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Written by Ph

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