Exactly a year ago today the first case of COVID-19 was identified in South Africa. As you might recall, Africa was one of the last continents the virus reached but since then, our story has played out much as it has in other parts of the world.
Since it arrived, COVID-19 has grabbed headlines either directly or through alternate streams such as corruption related to lockdowns which in turn were brought about by COVID-19 itself. The ongoing battle against misinformation and disinformation related to the virus has also featured heavily.
It should come as no surprise then that the National Press Club (NPC) named COVID-19 as the Newsmaker of the Year for 2020.
“From that first case through the five levels of lockdown, the ‘family meetings’ and vigorous debates around the regulations; the need for personal protective equipment and the demands made on the healthcare services; working from home and job losses; the socio-economic impact, and the need for vaccines,” said NPC chairperson, Val Boje during a webinar held for the announcement.
The chairperson said that no story had dominated the news over the last 365 days quite like COVID-19 has and we have to agree.
COVID-19 has impacted every person, in every sector of life. Social media platforms had to act quickly to address misinformation and disinformation, businesses were forced to adapt and ecommerce has become a vital part of most people’s lives.
The virus has changed our way of life and we still don’t know just how much more life will change.
The award for Newsmaker of the Year 2020 was accepted by Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize.
“I believe this award is for all the South Africans out there, fighting COVID-19, the health workers and all those who have had to endure the difficulties of the pandemic. We accept it on the basis that we all understand that those are the people that this award is honouring,” the minister said.
The minister added that despite the testing times we’ve been through, it shows that South Africans can band together when the going gets tough.
“I think it is important for us to realise that we all got into this completely unaware of the severity that it was going to create among us. But we have seen people responding very eagerly, coming in, responding to the use of masks, responding to distancing, Basically we changed our behaviour and created a new culture which was a good sign for us to say: whereever there are challenges that we face as a country, we are able to rally together and try and find a way to make sure our country survives,” Mkhize added.
Here’s hoping COVID-19 isn’t the newsmaker for 2021.