Covid-19: A Pandemic for the Priveleged?

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By Kwakhanya Max

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 2 of VARSITY News.


Covid-19’s rapid and far-reaching spread has propelled many governments to implement intensive measures in order to protect citizens. These measures include lockdowns, restrictive policies that prohibit people from gathering in large groups and the likes. Our very own country is currently enduring what seems like a daunting 21-day long lockdown, with only essential workers being permitted to work.


Citizens may only leave their homes to purchase essential goods, such as food and medical supplies. All these stringent measures have been instated on the grounds that they will protect all in our country. However, I cannot help but think that although these restrictions are to benefit all, they are actually only endurable by some. This being those wealthy and privileged enough to stockpile, access medical care, self-isolate and survive without a wage or salary. Inequality, if it was not already so obvious before, has made itself unavoidably evident.


The reality is that the average South African family living in a densely populated township cannot stockpile on food; this is not feasible financially — how does such family deal with such panic? Another factor that makes this pandemic only endurable by the privileged is access to proper medical care. Our country already without the pandemic, has public health services that are overpopulated, underfunded and understaffed. The question then is, who will be able to access medical care? More imperatively, who will be able to afford quality medical care? Again, those economically privileged. It is also important to highlight that it is usually those who are underprivileged that are categorised as the vulnerable groups of people who will likely battle with a Covid-19 infection. In essence, it will be those who need medical assistance more who will not have access to it.


It is questions like these that we must ask ourselves when considering the way forward in trying to combat this pandemic. Those who are privileged, in any way, shape or form, have to be aware of how to spend their privilege in such a way that recognises and is sensitive to the privilege-divide in our country. This pandemic affects all, however it is only endurable by some. May we all do what we can to ensure all are able to persevere in such trying times. God Bless, Africa!



This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.

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