Yet another expert, this time a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, has called the government’s phased exit from the lockdown nonsensical and unscientific.
Dr Glenda Gray, a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) and chairperson of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), told News24 in an interview that the lockdown should be eradicated completely. She said, instead, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI), such as handwashing, wearing masks, social distancing, and prohibitions on gatherings, should be put in place.
According to Gray, malnutrition cases were being seen in hospitals, the month-to-month phasing-out of the lockdown has no basis in science and many lockdown regulations were seemingly thumb sucked.
Gray said the evidence behind certain lockdown regulations was simply not compelling, referencing the prohibition on the sale of open-toe shoes. “This strategy is not based on science and is completely unmeasured. [It’s] almost as if someone is sucking regulations out of their thumb and implementing rubbish, quite frankly.”
“In the face of a young population, we refuse to let people out. We make them exercise for three hours a day and then complain that there’s congestion in this time. We punish children and kick them out of school and we deny them education. For what? Where is the scientific evidence for that?”
She says initially, there was good reason to implement the lockdown to slow down the spread of the virus and buy time to ready the health system, and this was largely achieved.
“One can argue whether the extension of the lockdown and these alert levels are justified, and I think we could argue that an additional two weeks in the lockdown may have supported the work that had been started and was critical. But the de-escalation, month on month, to various levels is nonsensical and unscientific.”
Another MAC member, associate professor at the clinical HIV Research Unit at Wits University and CEO of Right to Care, Dr Ian Sanne, said the committee was not asked whether the lockdown should downgrade to Level 3, or any broader questions related to the issue.
The MAC’s overall chairperson, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, said it was not true that the government had ignored advice on the issue.