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3 things to focus on during level 3 lockdown

The more we adhere to hygiene principals as citizens, the lower the rate of infection will be. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

The more we adhere to hygiene principals as citizens, the lower the rate of infection will be. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 4, 2020


Many South African have been dreading winter and anxious about the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr Tshidi Gule, the founder of MediSpace Lifestyle Institute and a medical doctor who is treating Covid-19 positive patients in isolation hotels, says that with the anxiety around the expected surge in Covid-19 cases, it’s important for people to take a look at the facts around what the country has achieved.

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She says that in the winter climate where viruses are prevalent, there must be a logical understanding that there will be an increase in infection, and the public need to be prepared for seasonal risk.

However, she says what most people might overlook is that these achievements have stood us in good stead in terms of the road ahead.

“South Africa has a fatality rate of under two percent, whilst most countries have not been able to achieve this. Some first-world countries are currently sitting at six percent or higher.  Lockdown has been effective in terms of reducing the travel-based risk, and so the only thing left at this point is community transmission. We should see Improved discipline by members of the public as we move to level 3," said Gule.

She also notes that the unfortunate thing about human nature is that in every society you will get good apples and bad apples, and South Africa is no different. 

It’s been encouraging though that with the increase in enforcement of the rules, especially in retail spaces (e.g. turning away customers if they aren’t wearing a mask etc.) that the gatekeepers of these shared and public spaces have really increased their vigilance. The members of the public who are not abiding by the rules are going to find themselves being socially excluded from participating in essential activities.

“Over time, I don’t foresee members of the public relaxing their approach to the rules, especially during winter. I think we will actually see improved discipline by the public across the country, which can be reassuring for many.”

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Gule gives some insight on some areas we can focus on in level 3.

Citizen behaviour will have a large impact on infection rate

When we look at our population and what we have achieved, there should be a peace of mind around the preparedness of the health system and that it is the best it can be right now. 

Also when you balance that with the need for the economy to reboot, the fine line of making sure the numbers stay as low as possible while making sure that companies survive economically is really going to be determined by human behaviour. 

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So, the more we adhere to hygiene principals as citizens, the lower the rate of infection will be. It’s important that citizens appreciate that the numbers are still largely in our hands and within our control. It rests mainly on behaviour from this moment on.

Assessing the safety of workspace

The best place to start is to look at what it is exactly that we are preparing for. When it comes to the return-to-work model, companies would do best, especially employers at this point, to familiarise themselves with the requirements of the space in which employees will now find themselves. 

Having spent a significant amount of time at home, most employees will be concerned about the safety of the space. In this light, assessing the safety of the work environment is vital.

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Navigating mental wellbeing of employees will be new territory for most employers

The second priority for employers must be the mental wellbeing of their entire team. And I think for most employers, this is going to be a new territory because they are not familiar with prioritising mental health. 

It’s rather seen as a grudge commitment in a wellness programme, and now it needs to take centre stage. Having a virus as part of our economic environment has definitely brought with it some unique mental health challenges. In order to ensure the productivity of the employees, employers are going to have to invest in the mental wellbeing of their employees.

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