Day 450 – Day 450

Yes, Day 450 of lockdown in South Africa. That’s a lot of days, and so it seems reasonable to ask what progress we have made since late March last year.

Officially, almost 60,000 deaths from Covid-19 (although the true figure is probably much higher than that); I can’t buy any alcohol until Monday and I can’t go out after 10pm. And in the next month, I’m probably going to be at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 than ever before. 3.4% of the population have been vaccinated, although most of those have only received one of the two doses they require. Joburg’s hospitals are full and are turning away desperate patients until others die and free up beds.

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It’s a deeply unpretty spectacle.

And yet, as I have previously lamented, life goes on unabated. I don’t know what it will take to change people’s mindset, but I can’t see it happening any time soon. And that means that it will likely be too late.

It’s a gorgeous sunny day here in Cape Town. High 20s and uninterrupted blue skies across the city. Fresh, clean, outdoor air is everywhere, and yet the malls and pubs are packed. It sometimes feels like I’m the only one that’s feeling this way, but there must be others also feeling vulnerable and choosing to keep themselves to themselves with just a coffee or two, last night’s braai meat, some Woolworths salami sticks and the football on the tele.

I don’t get it. And so I try to find some solace in Hungary v France.


Day 438 – Nothing speech yields no results

With due respect to The 438 Game and that guy in Forries who called it.

Just over a week ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation regarding the Covid-19 situation here. I don’t need to go back over that speech because firstly, there wasn’t much to it, and secondly, I covered just how pathetic it was right here.

Suffice to say, the only two interventions he made in the face of a clearly incoming third wave of infections were to reduce the numbers permitted at gatherings to 250 outdoors and 100 indoors, and to extend the curfew by 1 hour: from midnight until 4am to 11pm until 4am. I commented at the time that these were unlikely to make any difference to the very worrying situation and were really just to make it look like the government were doing something. The gatherings numbers were still far too high to limit any potential spread and the extra hour would just hurt businesses that little bit more without making any difference to the number of infections.

And that’s if any of the regulations were being effectively observed, policed and enforced anyway. (They’re not.)

Unsurprisingly, the rate of new infections since the speech has increased across seven of the nine provinces. The only two outliers in this regard were the two smallest (by population) provinces: Northern Cape and Free State, which were – for the first time in their existences – both ahead of the curve for something. Sadly, it turned out to be the third wave.
The rest of the country, in which 95% of the population lives, showed dramatic increases across the board:

Not pretty, but not exactly much of a shock, either.

So, as before the speech (and as before the second wave), Ramaphosa has a decision to make: either a stricter lockdown or a more deadly third wave. I’ve said before that I won’t get into the argument of whether lockdowns are a good thing or not, and I’ve also said that I am very glad I’m not having to navigate a country through a pandemic.
But they’re getting paid the big bucks (and sharing the funds with their comrades) for this sort of thing, and they really should be doing much better.

Last week’s speech was never going to do anything but harm. And so it has proved.

Graphs from Sugan Naidoo

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Day 431 – Hard to disagree

I’m no fan of any political party here in SA. Maybe not even anywhere else either.
But I’m in SA and so I’m concentrating more on the political parties here. For those of you not in the know, here’s a quick run down of the top 6 parties here:

The ANC is broken, horribly corrupt and is failing the country.
The DA is full of itself, despite continually lurching from one PR disaster to another.
The EFF is loudmouthed, flipflopping populist extremism in a red boiler suit.
The IFP has no bearing on anything (and therefore no relevance) outside KwaZulu-Natal.
The FF+ is the diametric opposite of (and therefore ironically also exactly the same as) the EFF.
And the ACDP is basically full of Donald Trump wannabes without the orange tan and the dodgy wig.

It’s not a pretty line up.

But enough of the prologue. On with the story.

It’s become ever so trendy on social media lately to shoot down anything that the DA says. If you refer to my quick – yet surprisingly accurate – guide above, you’ll note that the DA is adept at shooting themselves in their collective feet, so fairly often, this criticism is tautologically warranted and deserved, but equally, quite a lot of the time, it’s just trolling by people trying to look cool.

But they do look ever so cool when they do it. I, for one, always admire their actions.

Last night, we had another address from the President regarding the current coronavirus situation. We’re well into the start of our third wave now, and our vaccination rollout is some way behind where we’d like it to (or where it should) be. Oh, and the Health Minister – ostensibly leading our fight against Covid – is embroiled in a corruption scandal:

To be fair, we don’t have anywhere to go to save ourselves from the third wave. We simply can’t afford another hard lockdown, and we’ve become blas√© about precautions to protect each other from the virus, because there’s been no peak in the virus for a while, because there’s zero respect for those making the rules, because the rules are too lax, and because there’s zero enforcement.

But last night’s address was particularly pathetic: “Social events are driving Covid infections.” Well, sure they are – just like last time – but see above. And look again at the new restrictions you’ve put on them: 100 people indoors, 250 outdoors. Ridiculous numbers. That’s not going to help.

An extra hour added to the curfew.
Why? To look like you’re doing something? No. It looks like you’ve got no clue, no plan, no idea where to go, and you’re just chucking out some extra rule because you can. How will it make any difference? It won’t.

A reminder to wear masks in public (but see above).

Apparently, things are going well with the vaccination programme, but The West stole all the vaccines.

Oh, and on the Mkhize corruption allegations?

Nothing. Nada. Dololo. Zilch.

And so, when a DA MP tweeted this after the event:

And despite desperately wanting to be one of the cool cats, I find it very hard to disagree with what he says.

It’s not a great time to be in SA right now.

Day 400 – Marking milestones

It’s 400 days since SA embarked on its Coronavirus lockdown. Back then, we weren’t even allowed out of our property.
Since that day, we’ve been through two fairly horrendous waves of Covid-19, several alcohol and smoking bans, beach restrictions, economic disaster, and a stuttering, non-starting vaccination programme. Currently, our R number – marking the progress and pace (or not) of viral infections in the country – is sitting at 1.03, meaning that we’re ever so very slightly on the wrong side of where we’d like to be, but equally, that things aren’t nearly as terrible as they have been or could be. And that R number is currently being fuelled by minor outbreaks in the Northern Cape and the Free State. Touch wood, with the major centres doing ok at the moment, we’re still not seeing any sign of the expected Third Wave. Long may it continue.

Which does make one wonder why there’s still a midnight to 4am curfew.
Not that I had any plans for that particular period.
Other than sleeping.
Which is allowed.

Another milestone today: our wedding anniversary. The day each year when I sit back and reflect upon just why Mrs 6000, very much of Champions League standard, is still happily existing in my Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League¬†Second Division company. I’ve no idea either, but I’m very happy that she still seems content with my muddy, clod-hopping, somewhat makeshift agricultural style. Not much skill, but a whole lot of effort. As the actress said to the Bishop.
We’re going out to celebrate at a very good restaurant this evening.
But we’ll be back before midnight, Cyril. I promise.

I have spent much of the day painting. Not in any artistic sense, more in the “I’m not old enough for this Antique Cream to seem anywhere near acceptable in my house” sense.
I’m obliterating it all with brilliant white. Or rather, I was, until I ran out of paint. Very frustrating.

Soundtrack to my endeavours was provided by The Streets. I went for their Spotify catalogue, which has loads of live stuff, remixes and collaborations. Really nice trip (no pun intended) down memory lane, and one which culminated in me singing Fit But You Know It to the somewhat bewildered beagle.

A proper highlight of a milestone day for all concerned.

Day 365 – One year of SA lockdown

Indeed:

Was it the right decision? Too lenient? Too draconian? Were the bans on alcohol and tobacco correct? Or even legal?

I’m not getting into those discussions, simply because the views are all already so polarised and entrenched that whatever I write (or anyone else writes), no-one’s mind is going to be changed. So what’s the point?

We’re now a whole year on from that initial plan of three weeks, and we’re still in a National State of Disaster and a level 1 lockdown, with promises of a third wave of infections and a harsher Easter sanctions on the way. And we’re also a whole year on from my very first “Lockdown Diaries” post; something I’ve kept going with at least one post a day ever since. Of course, not all those posts are specifically about coronavirus and the lockdown: sometimes you want to get your mind far, far away from all the nonsense. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

The last year has been pretty awful for everyone. Very few people have come out of it wholly unscathed, and now we’re living in this new, weird world – but at least we’re still here.

Plenty aren’t.

I don’t see myself being vaccinated this year unless something changes dramatically. And that basically means that we’re not going to go anywhere for at least another 12 months, prolonging my personal lockdown for another year.

See you on March 26th 2022 for some better news?