Older adults are at a significantly increased risk of severe disease following infection from COVID-19. Thus, health experts have warned politicians with advanced age to be cautious when executing their responsibilities as the country grapples to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Elderly people are most susceptible to contracting the virus and South Africa has an ageing political leadership.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and his key ministers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic are Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and Cooperative Governance Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
All of them are over 60, with Dlamini-Zuma well in her early 70s.
Family Physician Dr Fundile Nyati says most politicians in the country are at risk of contracting the virus.
“Comparing us to other nations, you have a lot of people who are younger than 50 but in South Africa, the majority of politicians are much older. We have got data that we have received in the Western Cape that from age 50 and above, that’s where most deaths are happening. The average politician in SA is above 50 and what that means is that a significant percentage of our politicians are at risk and is not just the issue of age, but is also the issue of pre-morbid conditions or lifestyle illnesses that they may have.”
Dr Nyati has urged elderly politicians to stay at home as much as possible, practice social distancing and only venture out to their constituencies when it’s necessary.
He urged politicians to lead by example by wearing their face masks properly.
With over 3 000 COVID-19 related deaths recorded so far, the pandemic knows no boundaries.