Op-eds

If the coronavirus came to South Africa

  • Howard Feldman 2018
Without intending to spread panic, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to imagine that if the coronavirus (Covid-19) hit South Africa, most of us would probably die. I’m not seeking to be alarmist, but there really is very little chance of us surviving this.
by HOWARD FELDMAN | Feb 27, 2020

This isn’t to say that we don’t have superb private caregivers, most of whom are already engaged in the training of doctors, hospitals, and staff. Our National Institute for Communicable Diseases is well respected and geared to identify those afflicted. But that’s only half the story.

Imagine asking (nay, telling) South Africans to stay home, take their temperature twice a day, and report it to authorities. This is what they are asking 11 million residents of Wuhan to do. Who, precisely, would South Africans call to report their body heat to? City Power? ”Your call is important to us, please stay on the line, assuming that you aren’t already slipping into a corona-induced coma.”

Jewish grandmothers wouldn’t be allowed to use the hand-on-forehead fever gauge, which means that Facebook group Joburg Jewish Mommies would light up with thermometer-related questions, experiences, reviews, and horror stories of those impacted. “Sending hugs, light, and love.”

WhatsApp groups would warn against using thermometers made in China, and tell of thieves posing as healthcare inspectors gaining access to your home (please tell your domestic worker).

Chinese authorities have also ruled that one person per household is authorised to go shopping every three days for food. And they police that, with real police. Given how difficult it is to report a stolen cell phone at our local police station, I can hardly imagine this being added to the burden on the force. “Excuse me ma’am, but didn’t I see you at KosherWorld yesterday?” Tell anyone in Glenhazel that shopping for food once every three days is adequate – unless it’s an emergency – and I will show you what happens when there is no Cheerios for breakfast. If that’s not an emergency, I don’t know what is.

The spread of the virus will be rapid. With an average of 17 passengers per taxi, William Nicol and Louis Botha will no doubt become Ground Zero for the disease. Trains aren’t a concern as they never run, and the Gautrain, given the amount of people who use it, should pose no risk to anyone. It might even be the safest place to be, along with Mall of Africa.

Ex South Africans will, of course, waste precious little time in posting online how grateful they are to have left South Africa, because they knew, back in 1976, 1987, and then again in 1993 that this was coming. Those living in Israel will beg for Jews to “come home” (as long as we don’t fly via the East, because then we shouldn’t bother).

The good news for South Africans is that nothing thrives under the African National Congress government. This means that the most effective way to fight the disease is for Covid-19 to be given to parliament, and declared a national asset. Based on what has been done to South African Airways and Eskom, it will take no time at all for the coronavirus to lose its power (for at least four hours per day) before it gives up and retreats back where it came from.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Gail Belli 29 Feb
    Your article is hilarious I couldn’t stop laughing you are brilliant. Keep up the good work! 

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