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DURBAN – When the South African government took the decision to impose a national lockdown, it was subjected to immense scrutiny from many sectors. The term itself is a military term and had a number of restrictions. However, according to the co-chair of the Advisory Committee of Ministers on Covid, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, the lockdown has effectively flattened the curve and boosted the country’s expected peak from April through June / July.
“Our cases doubled every other day and we followed much the same pattern as we did in the UK. We only had a few hundred cases and the government’s early and determined action in implementing a state of disaster, closing borders and locking down has helped Stop spreading early. We flattened the curve early, “he said.
Karim reflected on the past year and highlighted important issues related to the epidemic in a media briefing held yesterday in the Caprisa offices of the UKZN Nelson Mandela School of Medicine.
He said behavior change and government intervention played a role in lowering the numbers.
Karim shared five lessons from the South African Covid-19 response:
Took the disease seriously and acted promptly
- He made difficult decisions and was ready to do what was needed – even if it was unpopular
- Proactive planning and early implementation of interventions
Honest and proactive in communicating with the public
- The minister published statistics on a daily basis and held regular media briefings to keep the public informed
The Covid-19 response had its flaws, problems, and abusers
- Military patrol abuse, some irrational regulations, and PPE corruption
South Africa can move mountains if we act together
- Defy Ventilators, People Who Help People In Troubled Times, The Solidarity Fund
Use this experience to prepare for the next pandemic
- Epidemic Response Unit with surveillance and integrated data networks
- Build local facilities for diagnostic tests and vaccines
- Variant monitoring – a threat to our vaccination strategy