Teenagers are at the heart of the fact that SA is now in a second wave. First, there was the scare in Cape Town when a bunch of young people went clubbing at Tin Roof. Many became ill and had to be quarantined. But that was not the wake-up call that it should have been.
Now, the matric Rage event in Ballito has been declared a super-spreader event.
Central to the problem are these matric “Rage” parties – when matrics flock to seaside towns to celebrate the end of their high school careers. Parties like these are the biggest reason for the exponential growth in cases in parts of the country, the department of health said this week. Most of those who are carrying and spreading the illness are between the ages of 15 and 19. They’re mostly asymptomatic, and are spreading the virus unknowingly.
Gauteng authorities are in the process of tracking and tracing about 1300 matrics who attended the Ballito event.
Rage organisers told the Daily Maverick that Covid-19 restrictions were in place, including a ban on booze at parties. Many matrics then opted to party elsewhere, where no restrictions were imposed.
From the start of the pandemic, the concern has understandably been for the elderly – who are most at risk of developing severe Covid-19. Younger people have had milder forms of the illness and have been considered lower risk, so they’ve flown under the radar. Until now.
A sense of social solidarity appears to be missing from many young people. In a country as unequal as ours, it is disheartening that a sense of community has not seeped into the consciousness of our youth – especially during such a critical time.
But young people are not the only ones at fault here. Their ability to foresee the consequences of their actions, biologically, isn’t fully developed. Teenagers are, by nature, risk-taking creatures. That’s normal. That is why they have parents to help them make good decisions.
Let’s do a better job of educating ourselves, and our youngsters: no one is immune.
This story was originally published in The Wrap here.