A weekend social media video showing youths in Nelson Mandela Bay enjoying a rowdy late-night festive season binge has irked the Eastern Cape government, with provincial health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo on Monday warning that Covid-19 figures could spiral uncontrollably in the city, recently declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa as a hotspot.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country, the Eastern Cape has been among provinces topping the list of areas mostly affected by Covid-19.
The video showed a large group of youths gathered in one of Port Elizabeth’s townships, with no masks and no pretence of social distancing – taunting a passing police vehicle.
Kupelo said: “By behaving in this manner, you are not showing a middle finger to the president, the premier, the health minister or local authorities, but you are killing yourselves – affecting innocent people in the process.”
Kupelo described the Port Elizabeth incident as “an illustration of a citizenry displaying total disregard for the impact of the pandemic and the regulations”.
“Health and police are part of Covid-19 command councils operating in the province and at municipal level. But this war is not theirs only.
“The moment calls on us to appeal to the people to do the right thing because they should not expect to be policed about their own health.
“While law enforcement agencies can do so much, people have to understand the threat arising from their lawlessness.
“Play your part by minimising the risk of exposing your own relatives to the virus.
“You may be young and fit, with a stronger immune system, but there is someone next to you whose health may be compromised by your own behaviour.”
He warned that disregard for health protocols and regulatory measures could lead to a spike in numbers of people affected by Covid-19 in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“Last month alone, we lost seven nurses in Nelson Mandela Bay,” said Kupelo. “And we could expect the worst if there is no behavioural change. People should take Covid-19 seriously, because it is a real threat to humanity.
“It is fine if it is not going to kill you, but think about the next person, who could include your own relatives – not just people you may not even know.
“This is worrying.
“It is only the behavioural change that will take us out of this threat. The war that we are faced with, will not be won in hospital wards, but in communities. “
Young people that continue doing what we have seen in Nelson Mandela Bay should know that already doctors and nurses in the city are suffering from fatigue.
“As some get sick, it becomes difficult to replace those on sick leave – they have to go to a 10-day isolation.
“It is for the people to play their role by minimising the risk of getting infected with the virus.
“This pandemic has not only threatened lives but livelihoods in as far as the economy is concerned.”