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We all must play part to defeat coronavirus

What is most vital to the fight against the deadly coronavirus outbreak is individual behavioural change, the writer says.
What is most vital to the fight against the deadly coronavirus outbreak is individual behavioural change, the writer says.
Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced extraordinary measures in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has wreaked havoc and left a trail of death and destruction throughout the world in recent weeks.

These measures include travel bans from high-risk countries, a shutdown of schools from tomorrow and a prohibition of large gatherings exceeding 100 people.

By yesterday at least 62 people had been confirmed to have the virus in SA.

More concerning is that, unlike before where only South Africans who had travelled abroad were infected, at least two cases of local transmission had been recorded as at yesterday morning. These numbers are expected to rise.

There is no doubt that we face a crisis. Therefore, the drastic restrictive measures imposed by government, though inconvenient, are absolutely necessary.

Addressing the media yesterday, health minister Zweli Mkhize said government could not rule out the possibility of declaring a national state of emergency, should the situation worsen. We therefore call on all of us to play our part.

This virus can only be contained and dealt with if enough resources are allocated, both through public service and otherwise, in particular to those who are economically vulnerable.

We therefore urge government and businesses to co-ordinate efforts to ensure containment, to limit the risk of transmissions and to boost access to quality healthcare for all those exposed to the virus.

While the restrictions in place will have a devastating impact on our already ailing economy, it is even more important to note that a healthy citizenry is the bedrock of any functioning economy.

Therefore, as organisations, companies and groups of people, we are compelled to step up to comply and make the necessary structural changes to mitigate the risks we all face. Most vital to the fight against this outbreak is individual behavioural change.

We must all exercise basic hygiene and take due care in our interactions with those around us.

Indeed, this is no time to be panicked, especially by falsehoods designed to stir hysteria. However, it is also no time to be blasé about what is arguably the biggest global health crisis in decades.

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