As South Africans bemoan lockdown, other countries seem to have it worse

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As South Africa progresses into week two of the national lockdown, citizens have taken to social media complaining of the strict conditions and the devastating impact on the economy. But it seems South Africa is in line with international lockdown measures.

Many nations grappling to contain COVID-19 have taken similar measures while others are far stricter.

Africa has, however, not been hit as hard as countries from Europe and other continents.


To date, Italy has confirmed 130 000 cases with more than 15 000 deaths; the worse affected country in Europe. In the majestic capital city of Rome, the once lively, robust streets remain barren. The country is grappling to contain the spread.

Despite the gloomy cloud the country finds itself under, a popular Italian musician from Rome, Fabio Marziali, has been keeping the nation entertained through his Facebook page. Marziali speaks of the conditions Italians are currently living under.

“The lockdown pretty much consists of people staying in their own houses. You are allowed to stay with your partner, with your family, but you cannot go anywhere that is not your house, except, the grocery store, garbage disposal. You can have a small walk around your house. You can go to the pharmacy, hospital. The city has never been so quiet, so clean, the streets are being renovated. You see lines outside grocery stores, if you try to open a business and police catch you, you are in big trouble.”

Marziali says Italy has never before seen such anguish and devastation at the current levels of starvation and immense loss of life. He says when all is done, the Italian government needs to provide answers for the ailing healthcare system.

“The situation is heartbreaking. We have seen incredible pain and suffering. The thing that affects people is that you can’t see your relatives or parents if they are sick or dying, no way to go to close to them to say goodbye. When a person dies, they die alone. There is no funeral, there is nothing. There have been scenes of people, without money going to the grocery store. They pick up stuff, steal, cry and fight with police; they don’t have food. Government is trying to help but the situation is too big, too many people facing loss of jobs. The virus made it clear that the health system needs a new approach, funds were cut too many time. Politicians will need to answer. If they can’t, just resign.”

In the video below, COVID-19 hard-hit Italy resembles  “war zone.”


Staying in Europe, only now a short flight away to what was once a colourful nation known for vibrant music, tantalising cuisine and of course, flamenco. Spain remains the second worse affected country in Europe, currently recording more than 12 000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Jessica Banuelos Nair, a South African married a Spaniard, lives in the capital city of Madrid. Since the outbreak, Banuelos and her family moved to the south of the country. She says, while there are strict measures of social distancing in place, an attitude of unity and togetherness remains prevalent in all Spanish communities.

“We went to the supermarket to do some shopping, my husband drove and I walked. We are not allowed to be in the same company outside our house. Strict confinement but the attitude is to just adhere to it. We also have a daily 8pm acknowledgement, where everyone from the community steps out. We have our lovely neighbour; he plays music for five minutes. The Spanish anthem is played; they also play the SA anthem because they know I’m in this community. We have a little dance, that’s really good to smile and laugh.”

In the video below, Spain’s COVID-19 cases rise despite strict lockdown laws. 

United States

Meanwhile, in the United States, Adam Brett Giroir, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has warned that the worst is yet to come. The accelerating US death toll is currently approaching 9 000.

Alarms have been raised for cities like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Detroit.

A South African nurse, who has been living in the state of Florida for more than ten years, Ronica Soobramoney, says due to catastrophic impact on the US economy, there’s been talks of assisting some families currently jobless.

“We are on a mandatory stay at home. They have banned meetings of more than ten people at a time. They do encourage people to go outside and maintain a six feet distance. Families are allowed to go to the Doctor and get essentials from the grocery store. Food is provided to anyone who has a need. Restaurants that remained opened, it’s online ordering and you pick up at the curb. Because of the economic hit, government is speaking to banks to assist people with mortgages and rent. There is also talk of government providing a grant.”

In the video below, US officials say they expect a peak in COVID-19 cases:


This week, China reported a drop in new coronavirus cases after closing its borders to foreigners to curb imported infections. After imposing stringent social distancing measures, the city of Wuhan, once the epicentre of the virus, is due to allow people to leave the city this week, the first time since the locked down in January.

China recorded more than 3 300 deaths as a result of COVID-19. Ryan Thakoersing from South America is currently studying Business Administration at the Beihang University, in Beijing, China explains the current conditions they live under.

“The Chinese government stopped railway services, all no essential services, people were asked to work from home. The buses were not allowed to leave the cities that they worked in. They are all out small teams to manage districts so that people would not go outside. If people needed groceries, that team would mobilise and get the groceries. They do not allow foreigners now to come inside of China; they believe the spread of the virus is now coming from the outside.”

In the video below, Chia lifts lockdown on Wuhan. 

In comparison then, it would seem South Africa is in line with international lockdown measures. According to Johns Hopkins University in the US, the coronavirus has reached more than 210 countries and territories around the world. Researchers believe that currently, nearly half of the world’s population is living in some form of lockdown.