Following the announcement by President Ramaphosa of a national state of disaster regarding the COVID-19 virus, public concern about the outbreak by South African residents and citizens is fully understandable. As an organisation dedicated to conflict mitigation and community peace, ACTION Support Centre believes it is paramount for everyone to remain calm and not to panic.
Our response to the pandemic will test our ability to demonstrate solidarity and protect the vulnerable. We need to recognise that life will have to change, for a while at least. Our purpose is to slow down the spread of the virus, so that our health systems and caregivers can cope when people begin to get sick and need hospitals and clinics. If everyone gets sick at once many more people will suffer. Follow the Department of Health Guidelines and the WHO Guidelines below. Everybody can help to slow down the spread. Stay at home, wash your hands, or sanitise them, whenever you touch something others may have touched before you, stay connected to your friends online, avoid crowds and unnecessary travel. This will be important in the long run.
ACTION maintains its commitment to collaborating with its various partners, including Central and Local Government Departments. Through our work over the years in places like Musina and Makause we recognise that there are communities that are especially vulnerable due to high population densities and inadequate health facilities. In this regard, we intend to engage officials and community leaders to ensure that these communities have access to relevant services and information that place them in a position to combat the virus. Women and men in rural communities and high density urban areas will be amongst the most vulnerable.
In addition, through our well-established network of community structures, we will intensify our awareness drive as part of efforts to ensure that rural communities, informal settlements and hostels like Madala in Alexandra are adequately informed about the virus. We do however believe that in any intervention that is undertaken, a collective and unified approach by every stakeholder will be central towards slowing down the spread of this virus.
We will continue to pay close attention to health authorities and follow the advice of the Government where the health of the public is concerned. Globally and within the region, the situation regarding COVID-19 varies greatly. It is therefore important to follow the guidelines of local health authorities as well as the World Health Organisation. Positivity is key in these times of uncertainty and it is important for every concerned stakeholder to reflect on ways to find sustainable solutions to the eventual social and economic impact that this outbreak will have on local communities.