#LockdownSA: Day 1 sees panic-buying in Daveyton

#LockdownSA: Day 1 sees panic-buying in DaveytonPanic buying in South Africa during lockdown(Credit: Flcikr/ Steve Crane).

On the first day of the national lockdown, a frustrated Daveyton resident laments that the government’s plans aren’t well implemented.

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Payday crowds are a usual feature of malls and shopping centres, but in Daveyton, panic-buyers flout the lockdown regulations aimed at containing the spread of the virus and potentially increase their chances of contracting ovid-19. infection. The lockdown started at midnight, March 27, across South Africa. 

 Health-e News spoke to Portia Serote, a Mayfield, Daveyton, resident to find out more about her experiences of the first day of the national lockdown. 

Serote says there is mass panic-buying, with residents buying food in bulk, and no official implementing a safe distance for people in the queues.

 “People are buying food in bulk — standing in long queues and very close to each other,” she said. 

On Tuesday EWN reported that in Cape Town Customers made their way to two of the country’s biggest retail stores filling baskets and trolleys. Long queues could be seen at Pick n Pay at Waterfront and Shoprite in the city centre.

While Health-e News observed panic buying on Wednesday at Tsakane mall next to Springs where there were long queues to retail stores such as Shoprite, SPAR and pharmacy store Clicks. 

“The government’s plan is good, but is not smart. It doesn’t have the ‘Who, What, When, Where and Why’ approach, and lacks especially on the ‘How’ part. How should things be done? The lack of capacity, and monitoring and evaluation, means that we are not seeing what government officials have said on a grassroots level,” Serote said.

Serote who is the health and HIV activist also former Treatment Action Campaign member-believes that the lockdown explained by the Presidency is not the same lockdown happening in her neighbourhood.

“People are moving as per usual — they have bought alcohol, and either sit outside their house or in corners, drinking. Children are playing in the streets, which shows there’s no monitoring, and means the government plan is not well implemented.”

 ‘Everyone should be avoiding all social contact’

 Dr Thembi Xulu, Executive Director of Right to Care, said in a statement that “the way people are behaving today, you would think that the virus only starts tomorrow.”

 The statement continues: “The whole purpose of the lockdown is to ensure that people are not close to one and maintain strict social distance of one metre or more between each other. I do not recommend going out at all to the shops.”

 As global health organisations and the government have explained, older people and the immuno-compromised are more vulnerable to the disease, and Xulu urged high-risk groups to stay away from malls and shopping centres — rather relying on family and community members to help them.

 “Everyone should be avoiding all social contact. Standing together in long queues for a long time is putting you at high risk. Rather go shopping after lockdown. The country has been assured that there will be sufficient supplies,” the statement noted.

Serote added that the elderly in her community are suffering — and they have stayed indoors without food. She believes that people may die of hunger.

 “We decided to approach our ward councillor to find out what their plan is. The councillor tried to approach people at a higher level, but there was no directive on what they should be doing,” Serote said. 

Serote explained to Health-e News that her fears are that people in her community are not taking corona virus serious. “Our area is in the outskirt so people believe that the virus will not affect them, this is why they are not changing their social behaviour,” she added that this is the reason she is concerned about the health of her community.

While she is worried about her community she told Health-e News that she makes sure that her family is protected during the outbreak. “We are always indoors, we have turned our garage into a makeshift gym to keep ourselves healthy,” said Serote adding that within the garage they have sanitisers, and masks.

She said the unfortunate part is that her husband goes to work everyday as he works at a butchery, but he makes sure that he protects himself by wearing masks, washing hands and sanitises frequently.

Meanwhile Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has urged people to avoid getting into taxis to go to shopping malls. He says people should rather go to nearby shops in their communities. The Minister has also appealed to taxi drivers to adhere to the regulation to only carry 60 percent of their capacity per taxi to ensure that people are spread out inside the vehicles to avoid close contact.

Minister of Trade and Industry Ibrahim Patel has also called on supermarket owners to ensure that their shops are not crowded. – Health-e News


For more information on the virus, you can the toll-free public line: 0800 029 999, or you can send a message that says “Hi” on Whatsapp to the number 060 012 3456 to get updates on Covid-19 in South Africa. Or you can visit https://sacoronavirus.co.za/