During the first week of the lockdown, people are already grousing about the inconveniences caused. They are complaining that government is ‘going overboard’ or ‘being excessive’. They are whining about the COVID-19 after-effects on the already depressed economy. These are the same voices who, a few of weeks ago, blasted the government for not moving fast enough and ‘allowing’ those first Romanian tourists who carried the disease into the country.

In the middle of a global pandemic, people are crying about their individual needs as if they are the only people that matter. “I think things are too difficult for ME, so all 2.5 million Namibians should be exposed to disease, so that I can have things the way I want.” The short-sightedness of those who think the measures taken by the government to lock down three regions; practically close the borders; severely limit public gatherings; and restrict movement of people through the streets, is concerning.

“I am dry coughing, sneezing, have fever and headaches that I am not telling anyone about, but I should be allowed to go to my favourite shebeen and drink Tambo with the boys. How dare government prevent me from doing as I want! I have rights!”

These kinds of voices will brandish the constitution right into their sick beds and take hundreds of the rest of us with them.

There is no rule book on how to perfectly handle COVID-19; nothing is “typical”. A precaution taken in the USA or Italy may not be applicable in Namibia. Likewise, decisions based on our climate, environment and demographics would not work in France or Russia. Errors will be made; not enough will be done in some places, too much in others.

Un-informed police officers in Walvis Bay on Monday and Tuesday this week were turning people away from buying food and demanding that they stay in their houses. Food shopping under certain conditions is allowed under the lockdown rules, and yet all people were unilaterally denied in that case.

A responsible government must always err on the side of caution. The lives of the Namibian people must not be decided by a roulette wheel. There is no guarantee that with these national precautions no more cases will emerge; but it can be reasonably assumed with confidence that without them, the disease may well take hold in the Land of the Brave and destroy almost everything.

Many whom we witnessed complaining about the lockdown rules are not in the high risk groups. They are not elderly, immune compromised, living in unhygienic conditions and undernourished. Those complaining the loudest have access to soap and running water, Savlon or Dettol to spray on their hands or the correct masks to wear over their noses and mouths. It is so easy to speak philosophically about this crisis when you are not in the bullseye for infection.

If people think COVID is a USA, Chinese, or Italian problem, think again: As of April 1st, the AU reported that 49 of its member states have COVID-19 cases (5,786) and 196 deaths:

Our own Southern African region has 1,436, people affected with nine souls lost so far. Our big brother and main trading and tourism partner, South Africa has 1,353 cases with five of its citizens dead.

Shall anyone coming from South Africa enter Namibia to have a great time on our beaches at Swakopmund or enjoy Etosha or the Dunes at Sossusvlei? How about if these new arrivals sit next to you or your elderly grandmother in a restaurant and start coughing and sneezing? Is that ok with the whingers? Namibia, with its 11 cases and thank GOD, no one yet lost to the virus, must do what it can to avoid a COVID train smash.

Immune compromise people are more susceptible to COVID. Consider this:

According to www.health.com, “chronic conditions that affect the immune system include heart disease, lung disease, lupus, and diabetes. Other conditions that can leave a person immunocompromised include cancer, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, and some rare genetic disorders.

“Chemotherapy and steroids can also lower immunity. They suppress the body’s ability to activate its immune defences by destroying immune cells or by blunting the cell’s ability to spot and kill bacteria.”

Which human being in one of the higher risk categories noted above should suffer illness because self-absorbed people think the official rules and restrictions to battle COVID are too much?

Proving a negative is hard. Government cannot measure how many would have gotten ill had they not imposed these restrictions. We can only look around us and know for a fact that doing nothing would condemn some people to the grave.

In any event, doing nothing is not an option. It would isolate Namibia whether we opened our borders and lifted our state of emergency and lockdown or not. This country would become an international pariah state and a poster child for ignorance in the middle of a global pandemic. For years to come, many people would think twice about coming here, holding their conferences or meetings here, or allowing any Namibian or anyone who travelled to Namibia from entering their countries. If Namibia ignores COVID, then what other infectious diseases is it downplaying? Is that global brand for Namibia OK for the complainers?

Lockdown regulations are not easy – everyone is under pressure right now. Things will not be the same post-COVID as they were before. Change is scary; we all love our known comfort zones. But, what is going on now is bigger than an individual’s impatience. Before crying too loudly against the precautionary steps being taken, breathe deeply and consider the bigger picture. It is not about YOU.

How much restriction is too much? If it saves lives, then it is just enough.