Day 59 – Another address

Not me. I’m very much still at the same address.

Quiz news: We quizzed last night (joint first after a disastrous collapse in the popular culture round) (and I was one day off on the date of the sinking of the Titanic earlier in the evening) (unforgivable).

I’m doing a friends’ UK quiz this evening.

I have a quiz on Wednesday.

As far as socialising goes, that’s it, but it’s valuable time with friends and we’re very grateful for it. We need that bridge to sanity, even if I did awake in a cold sweat at 3am dreaming about the 14th/15th April 1912.

As the worst of the pandemic hits Cape Town, the President is due to make another address this evening. 7pm, he says, but he’s not been on time for one yet. This is to announce (we think) a relaxation in the lockdown for some/most/probably not all of the country. The government has lost the faith and  support of the nation on the lockdown. It’s not going well.

The kids are 8 days away from a potential return to school, by which time the virus in Cape Town will be at the highest levels ever seen. The jury is still out whether this return is a good idea or not – or if it’s even going to happen. Maybe we’ll get some direction this evening. Maybe not. Probably not.

Our lockdown was meant to allow time for the healthcare system to prepare for the virus. Did we delay the start of the worst phase? Yes, probably. Has it made any difference? I’m not sure. We’re still being completely overwhelmed by the numbers. Would we have been more overwhelmed if this had happened two months ago? It seems hard to believe, but who knows?

But we can’t go back and do things differently: we don’t have a time machine, and even if we did, what sort of muppet would head back to late March and wait for the virus to hit SA? I know that there are some pretty stupid people out there, but honestly.
That would be like going back to the Grand Staircase of the Titanic on the 13th April 1912.

Safe for 24 hours then, at least. [swearword]

Sorry. I digress. Often.

If the purpose was to ready the healthcare system, then whether or not we managed to do that, there is very limited purpose in keeping the lockdown on: even in Cape Town, capital of the African branch of the pandemic.

Many people will be looking forward to being allowed to purchase alcohol and cigarettes again, but it’s doubtful that we’ll be allowed both – we might not even get either. Decent research shows that the prohibition on these items has been wholly unsuccessful and has generated a significant and structured black market which will likely continue after the lockdown and which will supply funds to organised crime.

So that’s good news. If you like organised crime.

Depending on what is announced this evening, tonight (and by tonight, I mean tomorrow, because we all need our sleep and it’s going be stormy and cold here this evening) could bring a huge celebration or widespread rioting.

Rest assured that I’ll bring you all the news from the streets with my bottle of petrol (or beer) in hand.

Keep safe. Keep well. Put a damn mask on.

Day 57 – Drink SA wine today please

The SA wine industry has been roundly shafted by nonsensical Government regulations since the Covid-19 outbreak began. First of all there is the ban on alcohol sales in South Africa itself – which is still ongoing. Added to that was the fact that for the first couple of weeks, winemakers weren’t even allowed to go into the wineries. Thankfully the harvest went ahead, but then there was a ban on transport and export of wines, which has only just been lifted.

It’s costing the industry a huge amount of money.

The South African wine industry is “in freefall”, losing millions a week since the lockdown began, and commentators at all levels have excoriated the government for its handling of the crisis.

According to some sources the industry has lost ZAR650m (£27m) since late March. Wines of South Africa puts the figure in lost exports at R175m (£7.49m) a week.

And that why wine producers around the world are pulling together and supporting an initiative by trade body Wines of South Africa (WOSA) with a new social media campaign to show solidarity with the country’s winemakers.

ssatastingtogether-002.jpg

Here are some details:

#SpectacularSouthAfrica encourages trade and consumers alike to open a bottle of South African wine on Friday 22 May to support the country’s embattled wineries.

To get involved in the campaign, share a photo of yourself on social media enjoying a bottle of South African wine on Friday 22 May, tagging #SpectacularSouthAfrica.

I don’t do social media campaigns often, but I’ll certainly be doing this one. And I’d encourage you to do the same, please: wherever in the world you may be.

My orders for local wine have been sitting at the appropriate distributors just waiting for governmental permission before they can be released, but fortunately, The Stash is still in decent enough shape that I can support this. Even if it wasn’t, I’d certainly make a plan.

And let’s face it: there must be many worse ways in which you could help out a struggling industry. You will enjoy this one.

Day 52 – It’s coming

The [excrement] is about to strike the [ventilation device].

I’ve mentioned here and here that things aren’t going very well as far as the coronavirus situation in South Africa is concerned.

But we’re now getting to the point where the calm before the storm has been fully exhausted and we’re at the start of the rough ride. We may unknowingly already be there: the data we (as the public) are seeing are probably a week out of date.

In parts of the Western Cape (and a few other select locations) the infection rate is completely out of control and my inside informants are informing me that testing isn’t being done quickly enough and that hospitals are filling up fast.

This is when the storm hits. So far, the health systems, though often creaky and held together with duct tape and goodwill, have managed to cope with the demand. That will soon end now, with both Covid-19 patients and routine medical emergencies unable to be treated as hospitals and healthcare facilities simply run out of capacity. The inevitable result is, sadly, more deaths.

And yet, people are still exercising here every morning without wearing masks, they’re going around to friends’ houses, sharing alcohol and generally ignoring all the rules. The fact that there’s a curfew even came as a surprise to one lady on the local whatsapp group this morning.

Incredible.

Like they’re magically immune or something. People just don’t understand.
People are going to understand quite soon, though.

An example: one (educated) individual I follow on social media said that she thinks she “has a cold or flu coming on”.
The next thing she shares is a photo of her out and about walking (completely legally), but…

Just no. If you are sick – stay home. Simple as.

Sure, your mask might limit the spread of the virus and (in all honesty) the chances of infecting people out in the open air are fairly small anyway. But why not simply reduce that possibility to zero by just staying in bed?

Maybe it is just a cold. But how did you pick up that cold virus if you have been taking sensible, anti-coronavirus precautions? Because what protects you against Covid-19 will also work against the common cold.

So if you have managed to pick up a cold (and sure, we all hope that’s all it is), there’s a warning right there, that you’re not doing enough handwashing and social distancing.

I was described yesterday as “a ray of sunshine”. I think (ok, I know) they were being sarcastic, and I really don’t want to get a reputation for being a misery and sharing bad news on here, but I’m still astounded that people aren’t taking this situation seriously.

That’s going to change real soon.

 

UPDATE: as if by magic, via twitter, here’s the perfect example:

That’s the [flipping] President in the light blue cap and there are some (oddly) sycophantic citizens passing him on his walk this morning. You will see numerous incursions into personal space, a complete lack of social distancing, and a cellphone being passed from hand to hand.

Like that’s in any way ok.

Wow.

Day 44 – Not nice

South Africa is now at (beyond?) breaking point.

Everyone is unhappy, angry, frustrated and generally wholly pissed off at the lockdown, but at the same time, no-one is doing very much about obeying the regulations about social distancing, wearing a mask and staying at home. And so those only-occasionally policed regulations are utterly pointless anyway. Covid-19 cases are increasing massively every day, we’re surrounded by closed supermarkets because staff have tested positive…

…the (public) labs have run out of testing kits (but they weren’t doing enough tests anyway), the economy – already tanking – has surprised everyone by tanking even more when few thought that was even possible, and our government is nowhere to be seen or heard, except for when it occasionally sends a representative clown out to shout at drivers.

It’s not nice.

People are obviously (and rightfully) concerned, afraid, upset, and they’re taking it out on one another (from a safe anti-social distance) on online platforms across the nation. The thin veneer of harmony and togetherness which was evident when we first started on this journey has now been worn completely and glaringly through, and the decrepit state of the glue holding the country together is alarming visible.

I’ve said before that there are no easy answers, but the lack of communication, transparency or any sort of action from the government is more than worrying – it’s near criminal. The gulf between what should be being done and what is actually happening is widening every minute. Even the number of staunch ANC supporters who are still in agreement with their party’s current approach to this crisis seems to be dwindling every day.

It’s a mess.

And it’s really not going to get any better any time soon. There’s no control over the people, and no control over the virus. Things are going to get a lot, lot worse – and fast – before anything improves. If that improvement ever happens.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of such pessimism brutal honesty that you didn’t want to read. But the government not doing what they should and the public not doing what they should is an absolute recipe for disaster.

And so that’s where we’re headed right now.