SA needs a bazooka to fight the virus. Cyril offered us a pea ...

Ideas

SA needs a bazooka to fight the virus. Cyril offered us a pea shooter

His words comforted, but against the greatest threat to our economy all we have are ideological fantasies

Columnist

Covid 19 has converted us all into armchair immunologists.  So here’s a trick question used sometimes to test aspiring medical specialists: “What treatment is offered by ear in an emergency?” The correct answer: “Words of comfort.”

At his best, Cyril Ramaphosa reminds me of a trusty doctor. He might have a lousy diagnosis to deliver, but he will offer it in a calm and empathetic manner.

On Sunday night, declaring a national “state of disaster”, CR was at his best: equable, authoritative and reassuring. The “medicine” he prescribed might or might not interdict the spread of the new plague loosed on the world. Will there be enough ICU beds, for example? But as the response is drawn from the World Health Organisation (WHO) prescription list, it is both evidence- and science-based. No midnight trawling of the internet, as in the government-sponsored quackery, two decades back, on our last pandemic, HIV-Aids. Travel bans, restricting public gatherings, hand washing and personal distancing beat beetroot and garlic every time. All things considered, Dr Zwele Mkhize trumps Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimiang. “Don’t panic, but prepare properly” is the essence of the Ramaphosa message. Mitigating anxiety – without underemphasising the severity of the disease and how it is transmitted – is a key requirement of the head of state...

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