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EDITORIAL | State’s Covid carnage-to-creativity rollout is ...

Ideas

EDITORIAL | State’s Covid carnage-to-creativity rollout is exactly what we need

Whether naysayers like it or not, government’s focus on vaccines rather than lockdowns is SA’s only way forward

Editorial

The government’s approach to the latest Covid-19 variant should be applauded. A sigh of relief rippled through SA as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday no new restrictions would be imposed despite the arrival of Omicron. Ramaphosa’s criticism of other countries’ kneejerk reaction to the discovery of the new strain was justifiably loud and clear. SA seems to be keeping a clear head while “pandemic theatrics” (as The New York Times writer Zeynep Tufekci called it this week (https://www.theinsight.org/p/omicron-edition-open-thread-112821?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy)) played out in other parts of the world. 

Now is the time to stay calm. This is not to say the new Omicron variant should not be taken seriously. SA’s positivity rate has shot up dramatically. The proportion of Covid-19 tests coming back positive rocketed from two percent to nine percent in less than a week. The real problem, however, is our low vaccination rate, with just more than a third of adults fully vaccinated. At least the rates are higher in the older and more vulnerable age groups, but our population is not even close to herd immunity. 

Ramaphosa made it clear on Sunday night that the government’s approach to try to manage this pandemic has shifted from lockdowns to a focus on vaccinations. It is a sensible move. For many, the economic carnage brought on by Covid-19 was too much to bear. “In taking the decision not to impose further restrictions at this stage, we considered the fact that when we encountered previous waves of infection, vaccines were not widely available and far fewer people were vaccinated,” the president said...

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