NATIONAL NEWS - As the rate of infections climb inexorably to another peak amid a wishful vaccination plan, the time for everyone to take responsibility for themselves has never been more important.
Stellenbosch University epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s tightening of the regulations on Tuesday, was much less strict than anticipated and it was clear government was trying to leave the protection of the population up to the members of the public to a great degree.
She added government drastically needed to step up educational campaigns and inspirational examples – as opposed to coercive punishment.
“The only aspect of this situation that I find troubling is the ineffectual education campaigns to inform the public about the risks when ignoring the personal protection rules, not only to themselves but persons in their vicinity,” Barnes said.
“In the wake of a stop-start-stop-again inoculation roll-out, it’s time to look for other methods to protect ourselves against Sars-Cov-2.”
According to Barnes, although people cannot prevent the relentless rise of cases, there would be wave upon wave of infections unless the population could be vaccinated at a faster pace than at present.
“It is all very well to tell the population that they are partly responsible for their own safety, but vaccination is the only reliable option and, so far, the government has not been doing too well,” Barnes said.
Ramaphosa, who admitted government had previously made mistakes, said their approach was motivated by a need to ensure that restrictions were impartial and not so severe to cause economic damage, but also not to be so careless that the country lost control of the virus.
Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said people had to take personal responsibility to survive the third wave.
“We can hold government accountable for the slow pace of vaccination, ill-equipped health facilities, overburdened health workers and poor planning,” he said.
“But individuals also need to define their roles and responsibilities in this fight.”
Pamla said the new health and safety measures would only succeed if government intensified its enforcement efforts.
“Pandemic fatigue has led to many people failing to comply with health protocols and regulations and many of them walk without donning their masks.
“A pandemic is personal because what we individually do or don’t do, make a difference.”