ccording to new regulations published in the Government Gazette, people returning to South Africa from abroad may now apply to self-isolate. FILE PHOTO Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).

Lockdown fatigue worries health experts

“It can feel like physical and mental exhaustion for many. And, as a result of it, many people may be pushing the limits of social isolation. People are basically social beings. While being at home is protective, it does nothing to meet our social needs.”

DURBAN – Public health experts have raised concern over “quarantine fatigue” as Covid-19 lockdowns continue across the world.

Experts suggest there are signs of fatigue not only with quarantine policy but even more with lockdown policies that have shut down entire economies.

According to data from the University of Maryland, more people grow weary of staying inside they are venturing out and growing lax on social distancing efforts aimed to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

One of the country’s leading political economy analysts Daniel Silke said the lockdown will test the tolerance of citizens.

“Five weeks of lockdown are likely to stretch the tolerance of citizens who are unnaturally confined to their homes and prevented from more regular activities. Already, we have seen liquor stores looted, illicit tobacco dealings back in action, and abandoned schools vandalised. Crime, therefore, is mutating as the lockdown creates new avenues for offences,” he said.

Experts have theories about why the week of April 13, became a tipping point.

According to experts, most people hit the mental milestone of the fifth week, technically entering a second month, with no clear end in sight. Some people might have even mistakenly believed that they could safely start bending the stay-at-home rules.

Data from vehicle tracking company, Tracker, showed that passenger vehicle activity displayed the most notable change from 15 to 17 April – where people completed 40 percent of the trips they took before lockdown. This is a significant increase from only 22 percent of pre-lockdown trips completed in the previous week. According to the company, the data suggests “a negative shift in compliance to lockdown rules”.

Psychologist Dr Jen Hartsein says quarantine fatigue is similar to cabin fever, but more directly related to how people are feeling about the quarantine; being isolated and having to stay inside.

“It can feel like physical and mental exhaustion for many. And, as a result of it, many people may be pushing the limits of social isolation. People are basically social beings. While being at home is protective, it does nothing to meet our social needs,” she says

Meanwhile, researchers advised to avoid a drift into a state of apathy and feeling low and unmotivated, it is important to establish a clear structure to your day. Structure allows us to gain some control over our lives.

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