I see in the news this morning that on Monday there were more or less 20 cases diagnosed. Yesterday it was 40, and today 80. Erm, yeah, this genie may well be out of the bottle.
Of course, diagnoses are typically just a fraction of the actual infections. This may mean things are far worse than they look, though it may also mean that the apparent exponential growth rate just reflects medical services catching up in terms of diagnosis. But either way, things are not looking too rosy. In another week or two, there will effectively be no more medical services in the country; hospitals will be overrun. In a month or two, as many as two million South Africans may be dead.
Of course, I may be overly pessimistic, but even in a best case scenario, the world really has to wake up now and smell the sewage.
At least theoretically, this kind of pandemic is unnecessary and can be prevented, because time and again it has the same, limited number of sources:
- Tropical deforestation (which brings people in contact with animals they have never contacted before).
- “bush meat” and other similar markets, with unhygienic practices and where the meat of who knows what the hell gets sold.
- Traditional “medicine” that contains parts of exotic animals (and it is by no means just the Chinese who are guilty; right here in SA traditional “healers” are constantly poaching things like vultures and who knows what else to put in their quack remedies).
Can we hope that when the dust has settled in a year or so, and the world takes stock of what happened, that it will be realized that the above practices need to stop? Because if they don’t, it is only a question of time before the next pandemic hits. This time round we got off lightly, because thank ye merciful deities, at least it appears that children are by and large not affected. Imagine a disease that kills two million South African children in a month or two. It will be a level of tragedy we have not seen since the frickin’ Middle Ages.
I am none too optimistic. Traditional practices are sacrosanct, tropical hardwoods valuable, and people just never learn from history - in a year or two when this thing is over, people will see it a once-off anomaly, and it will be business as usual.