I ’ve Seen Wars and Epidemics Unfold. But Now That I Have an Immunocompromised Partner, the Coronavirus Makes Me Truly Scared
At midnight on Thursday March 26, all of South Africa went into lockdown. For the next 21 days, no one is to leave their homes unless they are going to the grocery store, the pharmacy or to seek medical help. No dog walking, no jogging, no food delivery services. Only essential workers are exempt, and that list is small. When President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement on March 23, a week after shutting the nation’s schools, there were only 402 confirmed COVID-19 cases. But it was essential, he said, to “flatten the curve” before widespread outbreaks overwhelmed the country’s fragile medical system. By the time the lockdown went into effect, three days later, the number of cases had more than doubled. For most South Africans living paycheck to paycheck (if they have one at all) in small, multi-generational homes, the lockdown is a brutal, but necessary, blow. For the nation’s elites, insulated by yards, well-stocked pantries, and live-in staff, it is an inconvenience. For me, it is a relief. My husband is in the category of people most vulnerable to COVID-19, the kind that the U.K. government suggests should stay at home for the next 12 weeks. He is far younger than the 75-year-old cutoff for eschewing all social contact, but he has a chronic disease, and is immunocompromised. But when no one else in our social group was taking precautions, it felt ridiculous to seriously follow the recommendations to stay home, and avoid family members who ...
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