An emergency care expert and college principal weigh in on the Coronavirus crisis
Stock markets the world over are taking huge hits, the world as we know it seems to be enveloped by chaos and trepidation is the order of the day. A pandemic has shut down airports and businesses the world over, South African has declared a state of disaster and has shut its borders, along with appeals of other safety precautions that need to be taken such as quarantines and social distancing. One could confuse the current situation to a scripted movie about an impending disaster that threatens to wipe out the human race.
However, there is no confusion here because COVID-19 is very, very real.
Now the question is, without fear-mongering, what are the realities of the situation, how do we respond and what adjustments can we expect moving forward? During his first national address last month President Cyril Ramaphosa issued travel bans and visa cancellations for visitors from Italy, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the US, the UK and China. He also announced visa denials for everyone who had visited high-risk countries; land ports and seaports to be shut and non-essential travel by all government personnel to be stopped.
In the backdrop of these announcements, DESTINY CAREERS sits down with Moosa Tarr, the Principal and Director of Life Line Emergency Care, who is an advance life support paramedic; and the Principal of CTC College, Mpho Madzibadela, a business leader and entrepreneur.
The first part of our conversation focused on whether or not, we, as central South Africa (South Africa and Lesotho mainly) were ready to deal with the Coronavirus crisis and how it would impact the average people and business activity.
“One does not need to be a medical practitioner to know that South Africa and Lesotho have a large problem when it comes to overburdened health systems and not only that, we already have a large number of resources invested towards fighting diseases like HIV and combating TB, Coronavirua will
only serve to make such situations much worse,” Tarr says.
“Also, one of the fundamental issues, especially for countries like Lesotho with a lesser developed emergency medical care system, is that we do not have proper protocols to deal with the issue, meaning we have no official way to respond to the crisis and beyond that, we also lack some of the necessary infrastructure. But I will say that testing at the border gates around Lesotho has been going on for quite some time.
“Related to the health profession, if we look at the news lately, we can see that there is a growing amount of panic, which in turn has caused people to run to stores and stock pile in an attempt to protect themselves as best as they can. As the principal of an emergency medical services college in this time of crisis, a simple thing like the availability of soap becomes problematic. Things like soap and disinfectant are some of the simplest but most essential tools in our industry, this crisis makes things a lot more difficult to a point where even ourselves as medical professionals are in short supply and it’s surprising that suppliers, did not anticipate or rather predict that this could happen,” Tarr says.
The most evident example of how COVID-19 has affected business is the aviation industry, we know that the main and fastest way to connect with the world is through aviation and one of the key ways to deal with the virus is isolation — the clamping down of ports and travel bans have had airlines cancelling trips to various ports of entry. The industry has also had to be vigilant by taking vigorous protective measures that don’t necessarily fit the schedule of flight logistics. As a result, it is one of the first industries that have been hit the hardest, with some international flights only flying with 20% passenger capacity.
You can imagine that a lot of pressure will be put on businesses that are directly affected by the president’s announcements. Business and industries like tourism, with its many facets like hotels and entertainment. Manufacturing will have to undoubtedly change because some factories and businesses employ way more than 100 people and thus, won’t be able to meet certain demands like the production of soap and sanitizer. Furthermore, even as African economies, we are not doing well and that exacerbates the situation; the truth is also that we already have an overburdened health care system” Madzibadela says.
Naturally, while discussing the impact on business the following questions have been asked: “If we are not sure that government can handle the burden and, furthermore, we are sure this crisis will affect us all, then how do the communities and private sector lend a hand during these tough times?” Mpho is clear on the issue, “as the private sector we need to come together, these are going to be strained times moving forward and as hard as they have already been, companies should begin to help, now is not the time to debate profits, now is a time for action and of coming together as a nation.
“Private businesses should help the industries and people who support them when business is running. Banks should also support companies and business that are actively attempting or could possibly help fight the virus because they need to invest in saving the client who will pay his interest at the end of the month. Companies with interests in fields such as sports should take up the mantle to help their supporters at this time. People in our communities are living hand to mouth and have social challenges beyond this pandemic and Coronavirus can only make it worse.”
The consensus from the conversation is that now is certainly the time to come together and help educate and support the nation. If there is capacity to help the next man in a time of crisis, those with resources must attempt to do so and those with the ability to inform and educate must do so. This is not the time to let the government work alone. Our vulnerable and our poor are on the front lines.
Principal and Director of Life Line Emergency Care