It was heartening to see all political parties put aside their differences and unite behind the common purpose of getting the country to adhere to the guidelines set out by the government to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.
None of the parties tried to make political capital out of an epidemic which is wreaking havoc in Europe and other areas.
Confidence was expressed in the ability of the Health Department and Minister Zweli Mkhize in particular to shepherd the country through the crisis. Mkhize, it should be remembered, has experience of competently handling a cholera epidemic during his time as KZN Health MEC.
Even the usually bellicose EFF had warm words for Mkhize and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s handling of the issue.
Leader Julius Malema expressed many of our own sentiments when he called on vendors of masks and gloves not to increase prices, and on private hospitals to help the government should it become necessary.
All parties called on the populace to follow the stated guidelines, but Malema said it best: “Unity of purpose is necessary.”
What is not needed is rash behaviour like the Gauteng family which refused to be quarantined and fled a hospital after testing positive.
To prevent the virus from spreading, we need all who suspect they may be infected to have themselves tested immediately. And make no mistake, it is spreading. One briefing puts the number affected at 85, and just a few hours later this increases by over 30, including the first local cases of person-to-person transmission.
The ability of government institutions to treat those infected was demonstrated yesterday when South Africa’s “patient zero” recovered sufficiently to leave hospital. This shows that we can get ahead of the proverbial curve, if everybody plays by the rules.
Religious institutions have a huge role to play here in terms of how they control the numbers at gatherings.
We, therefore, welcome the common-sense approach adopted by the Zion Christian Church in announcing that it would not host its annual pilgrimage to Limpopo, and the Muslim Judicial Council’s cancellation of Friday prayers which attract large congregations.
Other institutions should follow suit.