Thandizo Kawerama

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Namibia has shot straight up to a whopping 293 cases and counting (as of 7/2/20), this should be alarming to us but surprisingly, it’s not. It’s business as usual for the population and I’m not too sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

We definitely should not be panicking, that’s for sure. Panicking as we all learned earlier this year, leads to overcrowded grocery stores and an unnecessary shortage of hand sanitisers and other products. These are both terrible scenarios due to the nature of transmission of the virus. Panicking is not the answer and panic buying is an even bigger no at this stage with all that we’ve learned. Panic buying is a symptom of the fear of the unknown, and is more about trying to feel safe by any means possible rather than actually protecting yourself from the virus. People raced to grocery stores in April before and though they won’t admit it, the only thing they gained was a lifetime supply of hand soap when all they had to do was stay at home.

Lockdown brought safety through containment but brought fears of even more economic instability. I personally believe that the general consensus amongst the population shifted from ‘health first’ to ‘we need to open up as soon as possible regardless of the outcome’. This is fair of course with people rightfully declaring that they would die of hunger before the virus gets to them. However, I think the lack of reaction to our skyrocketing numbers is moreso telling of the mental state that our country is in. We have become de-sensitised by months of nothing but bad news. Ignoring the growing number of cases in our country is our way of trying to wish the problem away just in case a country wide lockdown is brought as a result of our rise in cases. Extended lockdowns all over the country would bring even more economic uncertainty, more job losses and would mean our country would only wade deeper into uncharted waters.

These are all extremely valid concerns; however we need to override the feeling of accepting a skewed, dystopian reality in favour of saving the economy. All over the world people’s lives have become nothing more than body counts, we should not follow in their footsteps. We need to find the balance between being hyperaware of adapting to life during the pandemic and not living in a permanent state of panic, that way prioritising health as well as working towards economic recovery. Lives cannot be reduced to nothing more than collateral damage when thinking about the future of this country, both the economy and our people’s health can be made a priority and we all need to actively make choices in our daily lives to honour that.

We’re heading into uncharted territory but there are still measures we can take to make it through. Just because the stages are slowing being cleared does not mean we have to relax when it comes to precautions. We need to remember that at the end of the day ‘surviving’ this pandemic isn’t just about protecting yourself, but protecting our communities and our future as a nation.