Arniston Spa Hotel

MEMOIRS OF A CORONA VIRUS – Written by Hannelie Hanekom

The year 2020 will be documented in future as a worldwide challenging year due to the outbreak of the pandemic Covid –19, the results of it and the reactions to it. In SA the Covid-19 pandemic was confirmed by Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize to have spread to South Africa on 5 March 2020, with the first known patient being a South African returning from Italy. On 15 March, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, declared a national state of disaster and implemented immediate “lock down” measures divided in different levels.  The Guardian recently published an article on infectious diseases which wreaked havoc on human communities since ancient times. (McMullan,Blight, Gutiérrez and Levett 29 Apr 2020). Here are some snips from the article:

  • 541 to mid-eighth century: The plague of Justinian. The disease was caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis, which is passed on by fleas and rodents. Tens of millions of people died, although due to the limited evidence it is difficult to know the true scale. People may have thought God had scourged regions and their atmospheres, and to counter this they tried to clear the air.
  • Mid-14th century. The Black Death. The Black Death spread across Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa in the mid-14th century, wiping out somewhere between a third to half of the population. The pandemic was caused by the same lethal bacterium that caused the Justinian plague. Contemporary understandings of the Black Death drew on ideas of sin and apocalypse, acts of God and alignments of the planets. Many people turned to prayer.
  • Early 19th century. The second cholera pandemic. “People wanted the certainty of expert knowledge”. There were six cholera pandemics in the 19th century. Originating in India, the disease first reached Europe in 1831. In Britain, the disease was first recorded in Sunderland, from where it spread across the country, killing 32,000 during 1831-32
  • 1918 – 1919. Spanish flu. Between 20 million and 50 million people were recorded to have died during the Spanish flu, the most devastating influenza pandemic of the past century. During the Spanish flu pandemic, they quarantined
  • 1981 – present day. HIV/AIDS. The HIV/AIDS pandemic began in the early 1980s and has so far resulted in the deaths of more than 32 million people.
  • 2009 – 2010. Swine flu. There were more than 18,500 lab-recorded deaths from swine flu during the pandemic, but statistical modelling suggests the true extent of deaths could have been as high as 570,000.
  • 2020. Coronavirus. Deaths on 10 June 2020 – 414 476 and counting…

It is however not the intention with this article to discuss the virus in depth but rather to ask the question: What is it that our readers will remember about this time? What will your memoirs be? I decided to contact 40 of my WhatsApp friends and pose them the question. I have asked professional friends (young and old), businesswomen, overseas friends, and teenage friends. See their answers in the diagram above.

This diagram reflects our confusion.  Maybe our readers can also relate to some of the memories and reactions. These are some of our reactions: lost opportunities, gained business, missing out on social contact, feel cared for, felt lonely, etc.

We have just entered Level 3 and there may be many more months of facing COVID – 19.  Let us not stop contacting each other, stop chatting to each other, provide support, ask for support, and boost our immune systems to stay healthy. Keep the faith, stay hopeful and start to work on new ideas! Never stop laughing. Make time for it…it really does release tension and stress!