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OPINION: COVID-19 turned our lives upside down but apart, together we'll triumph

23 March 2021 5:58 PM

Over the past 12 months South Africans have undergone major behavioural changes in their homes, workplace and public spaces.

By Tlou Legodi

Ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on March 23 2020 that the country will go into lockdown for 21 days, nobody had an idea how things will pan out.

Ramaphosa made the announcement following a meeting held on Sunday with the National Coronavirus Command Council. “This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.”

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Days prior South Africa had reported its first case of COVID-19 after it was confirmed by the National Institute for Communicable Disease. The patient was a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife. He had consulted a private general practitioner on 3 March 2020 with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat and a cough.

The virus reportedly originated in Wuhan in China.

The 21-day lockdown started on midnight March 26 2020 and ended on 16 April 2020. The rest is history. The lockdown took various iterations over the next 12 months.

Life as we knew it was never the same. What is bigger than a cricket had entered its hole.

Social distancing, sanitising and masks are now household names. It’s a great pity indeed that these interventions that are meant to help save lives and livelihoods are not treated with the seriousness they deserve in some quarters, resulting in lockdown doing a yoyo dance with uncanny regularity.

During the initial nationwide lockdown, enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act, all South Africans would have stayed at home. Under the lockdown, people would not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances. These included the seeking of medical care, buying food, medicine and other supplies or the collection of social grants.

At the moment we are under modified Level 1. Several restrictions have been eased, such as the number of people who have returned to work, trading hours and gatherings.

Nobody knows what will happen next, we play a wait-and-see game.

Over the past 12 months South Africans have undergone major behavioural changes in their homes, workplaces, public spaces and general individual and group interactions. There was panic, as is to be expected.

We at Radio 702 were not spared either. What was talked about in murmurs had arrived. A new era had dawned and things were about to change.

People had to start working from home early that week, with others following suit in a staggered yet co-ordinated arrangement. Only those who had to be in the building were allowed to do so, under strict conditions in line with company and country guidelines.

We were (and are) all affected. Some colleagues did return as lockdown oscillated between levels, but others have not yet set foot back in the office or had brief stints, only to be forced to work from home yet again.

What used to be a routine office setting where there could be banter, hugging and sharing of equipment became a place where one had to be guarded, on the edge.

We were faced with a pandemic none of us have ever experienced in our lives. Scientists led the way and hope kept us going.

We were all affected but some colleagues have more personal experiences as a testimony to the COVID-19 impact.

The virus has turned things upside down. The close-knit digital team had to now work in silos, which had both advantages and disadvantages.

We could work from the convenience of our own homes but that called for one to have discipline in the kitchen, paying courtesy visits to the fridge and food warmers to keep hunger at bay, while also working at lightning speed.

Where one could literally walk to a colleague and get a matter sorted, we now must have the patience of an ant as networks could misbehave without notice, irritating colleagues no end.

Data has become the currency we use to communicate, conduct meetings and create content.

Not every bullet that leaves the gun reaches the target, so we will now and then meet challenges. There are times when networks get in the way of a productive day.

We soldier on.

Some days are better than others and the yeoman work done by colleagues who have to be in the offices and studios have made a huge difference.

Elsewhere things have improved but, as we await the government to escalate vaccination, we must stick with interventions meant to save lives and livelihoods. All lizards lie on their bellies so you never know which one has a bellyache; that is why we must keep on wearing masks, washing our hands, sanitising and keeping the requisite social distancing.

A year does not sit where the others sat, it brings its own stool. Lets's hope the next twelve months bring hope and meaningful development.

As things stand, the future calls upon us to unleash and unlock our collective and individual resolve.

Cheers to the future.

*Tlou Legodi is Radio 702 Digital Content Editor




23 March 2021 5:58 PM

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