I am sure that after the events of the week, we are all somewhat anxious and tense wondering what the coming days will bring.
We are also being bombarded daily with information, much of it fake or misleading, that is often difficult to contextualise or understand.
Every day we get an update on the growing number of infected cases in South Africa and new announcements around the mitigation measures Government are putting in.
This is necessary and important so that we can all understand how we can contribute to a collective response to this threat to our communities.
President Ramaphosa has so far acted decisively, with the advice of professionals and on the best understood scientific principles in preparing South Africa to deal with Covid-19.
Every major political party yesterday expressed their support for our country plan and called on all supporters to tolerate and accept the necessary compromises we all need to make.
Today’s news of 37 Quarantine sites identified across the country should not be seen as something sinister.
The most effective way to manage this crisis is to ensure that we are testing for suspected infection, we are minimising social contact and slowing its spread, and those infected and critical are being treated in hospital.
By far the most rapid vector of infection has been the family/friends social cluster. We spread the virus to our family and friends because it is hard to minimise social contact. By separating cases that do not need to be hospitalised to quarantine sites where the virus can run its course without infecting family members or friends is a critical step in managing the spread.
This was what has been so effective in China who are already through the first wave of the crisis and for the first time today reporting a day of zero new domestic infections.
As soon as people are recovered, they are able to return home and they become people in our community that have developed immunity to the virus and can help continue our ongoing effort to fight it without compromising more of us.
It is the hardest thing of all, being kept away from your loved ones, but we need to be stoic about these measures. We are entering a period when our humanity will be felt keenly by all of us.
So the steps Government are taking are all necessary and in keeping with best practice in countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and China who have managed the disruption well.
Where these decisive measures were not taken, particularly in Western countries, there is a lot more impact and devastation.
Italy is suffering badly. They have many old people and young people who interact with them in tight family clusters. Their death rate is climbing and it is linked to the exponential rise in infections from three weeks ago.
This is to be expected as the virus takes hold, people sicken and some die.
The real worry is America and the United Kingdom – these two countries governments have been incredibly slow to react and to lead their citizens with calm and care.
For all the reasons I stated above, remember that South Africa is NOT America or Britain. We have acted, we are mindful and we are supporting each other.
But we are about to be exposed to daily, rolling news coverage in English out of the US and Britain that is going to be very hard to consume without getting panicky ourselves.
Financial markets are crumbling, people are losing their jobs and because of the inept response to this disaster, many will needlessly die.
Please always calibrate all the news and information you will receive on social media, television and radio with our own reality and context.
Do not assume our leaders are like their leaders or their behaviour should inform our behaviour.
Of course we are in for harder times. In many ways it will get even harder because when these big countries go through these kinds of pains, we all feel it.
We are after all a global village.
But look to the East. China is heading back to work mostly. Life is slowly finding normal. Will it be the same as before? No – it can never be because events like this define and shape a generation.
In many ways, change for good will come from this. It’s hard to see it now, but it’s going to bring positive changes to how we care and support each other that will transform the world as we knew it.
But before we get there, we need to get through this. Please do not feel afraid, anxious or alone. Even if we remote work or socially distance ourselves, please make time for chatter and sharing.
Make an effort especially with team members who you know may be prone to getting “lost in their heads” – buck up each others spirits and find comfort in that we know what this enemy is, we know how to fight it and we know we will win!