The Corona virus – Take it seriously and act responsibly 

Marius Venter CEO Plett Tourism
Published: March 23rd, 2020

From the CEO’s desk

A newsreader stated on the news a couple of days back that it is only two weeks since the Corona Virus was first confirmed to have reached our shores – it somehow seems like we have been living with this scourge for a lifetime.

Marius Venter CEO Plett Tourism
Marius Venter, CEO Plett Tourism

Like most of you, I have been reading a great deal of literature and studying numerous reports, anecdotes and watching YouTube videos on Covid-19 and two of those reports – one from a writer in Italy and the other a transmission from a Covid-19 sufferer in South Africa have struck me as being foundational to overcoming this scourge.

The writer from Italy urged the rest of the world to “take the Corona Virus threat seriously”. Apparently, the Italian people did not take it as seriously as they should have. After all it was at the other end of the country from most of the country and the original numbers were not that threatening. By the time they “woke up” the devastation was out of control. The results are there for all to see.

In South Africa, the situation at present does not look that threatening – approximately 250 cases in a country of 50m people – no deaths and most cases a long way from Plettenberg Bay.

More recently a case emerged in Knysna and then another in George. I am not urging panic – far from it – as particularly the Knysna case seems to have been quickly contained after the sufferers returned from an overseas trip – but suddenly the scourge is closer to home. We need to take this seriously and react accordingly as a community.

The message from the local individual who has contracted the virus urged the population of South Africa to behave responsibly in dealing with the virus. Maybe his urgings are indicative of the fact that he failed to take the necessary precautions to avoid contamination. In short, he urged us to do all those things that the health authorities are urging us to do. As he put it “no one else is going to stick it up your nose or into your mouth or eyes that is something that each one of us has control over”.

My experience over the past few days is that a lot of businesses and individuals are rising to the challenge and implementing the protocols recommended by the medical profession, but a disturbingly significant number are neither taking the situation seriously nor taking responsibility by implementing these protocols. I spoke to a shop assistant on Saturday and asked her how the precautions they were taking were going. Her reply was disturbing – most were cooperating, but some treated the whole exercise with impatience and refused to cooperate and others of alternative viewpoints refused to cooperate on the basis that they did not believe in hand sanatisation. I was shocked and dismayed. A lady that I encountered whilst having coffee at a local supermarket told me that she was sick and tired of all the Corona Virus nonsense and just wanted to get it and get it over with and that if it walked past she would “go and lick it”. Such people are a ticking time bomb in our midst!

If we as a town fail to take this threat seriously and act responsibly, we are likely to regret that decision and people may lose their lives as a result. It would be naïve to think that we will never have to face this threat and whether or not the virus gains traction in our town will be entirely up to us – each and every one of us – cooperating and playing the role we need to play.

Let me present a simple case scenario. In presenting the case scenario in order to be able to draw illustrative parameters and conclusions, I am going to presume that the percentage of the town that are compliant with health guidelines are 100% compliant and that the outcome is that they will not be affected by the virus. On this basis, if we have a population of 50,000 people and 95% are diligently complying with health guidelines and the virus comes to town, 2500 persons will be susceptible to infection and providing that they do not all become infected at the same time, our health services should be able to cope and the virus overall will not really gain traction in the town as the rate of spread will have been slowed  down dramatically and the virus would probably burn out.

Now look at the scenario of having a population in which only 50% of persons are complying. You can work out your own figures. We will have a disaster on our hands.

By far the best and cheapest option to reduce the impact on our town is to strictly follow the health guidelines and the more compliant we are, the less the impact of the virus will be on our town. A diligent effort on the part of each of us and cooperation with all others who are seeking to implement recommended medical guidelines together with a small outlay on disinfectant products, soap and hand sanitizer and we can get through this with minimum negative impact on both our health services and economy.

If we fail to do this, the alternative does not bear thinking about and we are in for a tough time.

Which category do you belong to? Are you following all recommended health protocols? Remember that you do not stand alone in this to make your own decisions – your community is depending on you and will be directly impacted upon by the decisions you make.

In an effort to secure a high level of compliancy, I will be issuing a series of these letters both urging the populace of Plett to cooperate and comply with all health guidelines pertaining to the virus and educating residents on what can be done in terms of health guidelines to minimize the chances of becoming infected with the Covid-19 virus.

I would ask each and every one of you to not only ensure that you and your family follow these protocols but that you spread the word as widely as possible not only by forwarding this letter to your entire data base but by verbally encouraging everyone you encounter to become part of the overall effort.

Your town is depending on you.

Yours in service to Plett

Marius Venter
CEO Plett Tourism