The first case of COVID-19 in South Africa was reported on 5 March 2020. Three features of COVID-19 have led to a global pandemic with disastrous economic consequences:
- It is a completely new virus. We have only known about the virus for approximately 4 months. This means that at the time of the virus’s discovery, nobody in the world, regardless of age, race, gender or income level had immunity to the virus. In addition, it is possible to be both asymptomatic and infectious – an incredibly difficult situation to manage in terms of transmission control.
- This is a highly infectious virus. It has a reproduction number (R0) of approximately 2.5 This means that 2.5 infections will result from one case in a population with no immunity to the virus.
- The virus cannot move on its own. The virus moves because people move, and its method of transmission is via human interaction. It is spread by the respiratory route.
In a highly interconnected and globalised world, with people constantly travelling between different local and international locations, the entire world is vulnerable. In light of this vulnerability, many countries (including South Africa) have implemented stringent lockdowns.