The Stage 3 state of emergency rules in play in Windhoek and other areas gives the nation a chance to get it right. Masks, sign-in at stores, hand sanitizing, staying at home, closure of public places (to varying degrees) are all difficult. But, we have 16 days to buckle down and get it right. Let’s do it.
Resisting the rules, scoffing at common sense (i.e., going to parties when COVID test results are pending), avoiding quarantine, or moving around without a mask, will prolong the problem. The public must accept that the pandemic is here to stay. Stop resisting the personal changes to lifestyle that are required.
This country cannot afford to be locked down any further. We need businesses back, tourism to continue, construction to start again, and retrenchments to stop. The economy could collapse if we cannot adjust to COVID and the new normal.
Until a vaccine is found and made available to Namibia, we may have to wear masks. The country must keep its social guard up to keep COVID out of their homes, offices and schools.
There is a tale of two Namibias in the pandemic. In one Namibia, which encompasses the majority, there are tin shack houses in cramped peri-urban areas, without services. They are wide open to the pandemic and the other opportunistic diseases caused by poverty.
Most of these Namibians have always had substandard diets and questionable healthcare conditions. They cannot wash hands many times per day or implement social distancing even if culturally, they understood what it means. These conditions can keep the pandemic rolling along unhindered.
The other Namibia has a small segment of the society, living in well-spaced, fully-serviced houses. These citizens are, on the whole, in good health. They have access to regular healthcare and they understand the science about the pandemic. They embrace social distancing and wear the correct masks. They wash their hands and largely stay at home. They stand a reasonable chance of avoiding exposure to the disease. But some of them choose to act ignorantly by doing things they know are counterproductive to fighting the spread of the disease.
Each of us, regardless of which Namibia we live in, is the best weapon to fight the pandemic. Government can assist, certainly. But each person must do the right thing.
People planning to violate pandemic rules for whatever reason need to stop and think. They must consider their loved ones. Is attending that office meeting, funeral, or party more important than keeping your family healthy? People must do all they can to avoid infection for the sake of their loved ones, if not for their own sake.
For the shops and stores that have the sign-in books – renew the energy. Make sure trained employees are there at the door to assist each person entering. If temperaturesare being taken as people enter, then do it properly with functioning equipment. The sign-in books and digital thermometers are little more than jokes these days. Make it serious again.
Namibians need to make choices about how they will live their new lives. Some of what was done before is gone forever. There are job categories that are permanently lost. Others are permanently changed. Working remote was a concept before; now in Namibia (and around the world) it is a real thing. How we socialize, make friends, maintain relationships or do business may be altered forever.
Perhaps the government could help ease the worries of the people. Why not subsidize upbeat art and entertainment programs and talk shows with psychologists? This can offer people a welcome distraction and give useful information. It is alarming that suicides seem to be on the increase. Depression and feelings of loneliness and isolation can be exacerbated by the pandemic.
Let the arts soothe the nation. NTN could be paid to stage key scenes from plays or poem readings or comedic presentations that can be televised and streamed on social media. Employ Namibian artists to provide live music on the radio or online. Take the cameras into an NAGN art exhibition. Pay the artists to show their work and tell us why and how they made a particular piece. These avenues can be used to repeat the message about pandemic protective measures.
We have as less than two weeks to get it right. Let us not blow it again.