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#LockSouthAfricaDown #COVID19

14 March 2020

THIS IS NOT A DRILL. We call on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the South African Government to #LockSouthAfricaDown, using best practices as shown by countries like Singapore, South Korea, Japan and China (especially Taiwan). We now know what needs to be done to fight back against COVID-19, and what the catastrophic consequences of indecision, delays and inaction are, especially in a country with a large vulnerable population due to either their medical conditions such as HIV/TB etc, or due to their social conditions such as lack of sanitation and water, overcrowding and unstable employment.

The evidence is compelling: we need drastic NPIs (nonpharmaceutical interventions) now to halt the march of COVID-19 in South Africa. We have an ever narrowing window of opportunity to act decisively to prevent situations similar to Italy and Iran, where healthcare systems are at the verge of collapse and mortality is rising sharply.

NPIs, particularly social distancing, are the key now. We call on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the South African Government to introduce measures such as the following:

1) Close schools and other places of learning (making alternative arrangements for children who rely on school-based meals and single-carer households)

2) Encourage workplaces to allow employees to work from home wherever possible

3) Assist small businesses and vulnerable employees (casual/part-time etc.) to access paid sick leave 

4) Restrict travel across our borders and within South Africa

5) Cancel social, sporting, cultural and religious events 

6) Encourage workplaces to allow people who think they have been exposed to self-quarantine for 14 days

7) Encourage self-quarantine of ill people and if self-quarantine or isolation is not possible, resources should be made available for alternatives (e.g. temporary accommodation)

8) Provide clear step by step guide on how to self quarantine 

9) Roll-out hand sanitisers and hand washing stations on a mass scale

10) Widen the net for testing of asymptomatic contacts and travellers

Additionally we call on :

1) Politicians, the police, army and public health authorities to take leading roles in curbing the spread of COVID-19

2) Private industries, especially the private health sector, schools and universities to mobilise their networks and resources to assist with the response

3) Citizens to continue to remain calm and act in a rational manner consistent with principles of social solidarity and in accordance with advice from official sources

This is not the first pandemic and it will not be the last, as both TB and HIV have taught us in the most painful ways, but we have a real opportunity to respond now in a way we never have before and together prevent suffering and death.

"It always seems impossible, until it is done." Nelson Mandela


Public Health Action Team (PHACT)

*PHACT consists of a group of Public Health Medicine Doctors who have mobilised for the sake of social solidarity and health equity*

Email: phactza@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PHACTZA