As South Africa enters the 11th day of National Lockdown today (April 6), experts, government and other relevant stakeholders x-ray the effectiveness of the lockdown, checking if it should be stopped, continued or extended. The analysis of the lockdown is imperative as there are signals that the government may extend lockdown in South Africa.
At the moment, the country is yet to undertake mass testing toward garnering relevant data to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. Lots of experts think lockdown without massive testing is not effective.
A caller on Radio 702 asks: “Lockdown to what extent?. If we are not doing mass testing, lockdown is not very critical”.
Experts also clarified that there is a distinct cleavage between lockdown and social distancing and that the two may run concurrently and independently. It is being advocated that social distancing may continue and if well executed may stem the upward movement of the coronavirus curve.
However, the country is struggling to help citizens who live in congested informal settlements where lockdown and social distancing are almost impossible. One of the options the government is exploring is relocating some of these people – a daunting task.
There is also a growing concern on the impact of the lockdown on the economy, which some believe may be more devastating that the havoc Covid-19 may cause.
President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledges that Africa suffers from paucity of medical equipment, health workers, ventilators and masks.
Also, the country is being spurred to remember the vulnerable who need critical help as lockdown has worsened their lots generally. A local food bank and money donation are parts of the measures being explored in South Africa.
Globally and not directly linked to curbing the spread of the coronavirus, lockdown has some gains. With fewer cars on the road and planes in the sky, the environmental benefits of COVID-19 lockdowns are showing – a cleaner environment.
In Venice, the canals are clearer and in China the city smog is lifting.
Professor James Renwick, a climate scientist in Newzealand says it’s really amazing how quickly some of these eco-systems have changed with the reduction on the human impact on the environment.
There a huge improvement in Auckland’s air quality – though many experts are worried that our eco-friendly behaviours won’t go beyond the lockdown period.
Others think recycling services should have been allowed to continue, especially at a time when we are using more and more single-use products.
“It will pile up, there will be nowhere to put it and the easy option is to put it into waste and we really hope that doesn’t happen,” says Georgie Ferrari, Sustainability Trust chief executive in New Zealand.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in New Zealand says while recycling is an essential service, operations must minimise risk and that if a local council can’t do it safely, it can choose not to operate.