Covid-19: Let India be a lesson that we dare not become complacent
Johannesburg - The world has been transfixed this week by the tragedy unfolding in India. More than a year ago, the closest to what we are experiencing was playing out in Italy.
The Italian lesson played a large role in our government imposing one of the harshest Covid-19 lockdowns in the world and, most importantly, letting science and scientists, rather than political considerations, take the lead in addressing the crisis.
The world took heed of how we behaved, and countries in the Northern Hemisphere gradually began implementing increasingly tougher restrictions, just as we started successfully emerging from our ours.
We have had our scares along the way – the second wave was one. Yet, for some reason, we managed to keep a third wave at bay. In the process, we have become blasé about the prospect of a faceless enemy that does not appear as threatening as we once thought.
We do so at our peril – we need only look to India.
Earlier this year, this great country declared victory against the virus. It proved a tragic act of hubris. As its citizens dropped their guard, aided and abetted by politicians desperate to win elections, the virus struck back with a vengeance.
Today, the world looks on in horror as smoke from makeshift crematoriums in parking spaces and open plots darkens the sky as at least 20 000 dead are laid upon funeral pyres every day. Hospitals buckle under the strain of a case load that surpassed 300 000 daily infections this week. It shows no sign of abating.
As India’s medical infrastructure buckles under the strain and oxygen bottles run dry, the harsh truth is that India is at least a week away from the peak of the wave.
As we watch and weep, pray that we do not make the same mistake.
The war isn’t over.