While the rest of the country is corralled behind closed doors, South Africa‘s COVID-19 heroes are at the frontline in the war. The Times reports on the sacrifices being made by health care workers and their pleas to South Africans to stay at home.
In her mask, scrubs and even disposable underwear, Mandisa Ntanzi, 31, has been caring for COVID-19 patients at Durban‘s Addington Hospital for the past three weeks. The nursing sister volunteered to work in the isolation ward and uses her smile and humour as tools of the trade. “That is how I deal with difficult situations, I find the light and I hang on to it. I laugh, I make the hopeless get a sense of normality with care, medicine, love, but also humour,” she said. “My job is to make sure no-one dies. Our patients do not get visitors, so not only do we check their vitals and administer medication, we give emotional care.”
The report says Ntanzi’s biggest fear is not that her daughter and brother with whom she lives will fall ill with COVID-19, but that the country’s health system will become overwhelmed. In Port Elizabeth, Dr John Black, the head of the COVID-19 ward in Livingstone Hospital shares this fear. There are two COVID-19 patients in private hospitals in Port Elizabeth. The stock shortages of protective equipment being used unnecessarily in the community, staff shortages and overcrowded wards all make the potential dangers much greater,” he said.
According to the report, Black’s colleague, Dr Lia Boretti, an infectious diseases doctor at Livingstone Hospital, says she’s “terrified, exhausted and scared”.
One person who has been fighting the virus for weeks now is Ahmed Bham, the head of disaster medicine at the national department of health. He was on the mission to bring South Africans back from Wuhan, China, to the quarantine site in Limpopo. But as the quarantine draws to an end, Bham admitted in the report that there was anxiety. They left Wuhan when the epidemic was dying down, only to arrive back in South Africa when it was escalating. When he is eventually allowed to leave the quarantine site, Limpopo’s The Ranch Resort, Bham won’t be going home. “I know I already have tasks allocated to me. I will be going to other provinces to oversee some quarantine facilities. No family time for me.”Full report in The Times