"Be resolute about wearing a mask. And be insistent about keeping 2m away from anyone – everywhere.“ Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
"Be resolute about wearing a mask. And be insistent about keeping 2m away from anyone – everywhere.“ Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

#changethestory: Don’t ignore the second wave of Covid-19 infections

By Opinion Time of article published Dec 15, 2020

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by Lorenzo A David

I recently received a letter from my medical-aid provider stating that the “timing of this second wave, and the location of hotspots in the Eastern and Western Cape is of concern. Recently, Covid-19 cases have surged in Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City and the Garden Route. The healthcare infrastructure in these towns is under immense strain, and we are now experiencing a shortage of hospital beds and critical care facilities".

On Friday, the Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, stated that there were 12 569 new positive Covid-19 cases over the 7-days from December 3-10. That's 1 795 new cases per day. That translates into 74 people infected per hour. Of those infected, 1 154 people had to be admitted to hospital. That is 164 people admitted to hospital per day over the same 7-day period.

I'm not sure what the pandemic deniallists are fuelled by, but one thing is clear: they are living in an alternate data universe that must be close to eternal nirvana.

For those infected, overfull emergency rooms, no hospital beds, full ICUs and an awful sick feeling are daily occurrences. To my “Covid isn't real” fellow citizens: 5 000 fellow Western Cape citizens are dead. All caused by Covid-19.

I'm for the cancellation of all large contact events over the next two months. No large parties. No group celebrations and no graduations. No group gatherings on the beach. No happy holidays, unless it’s in your own backyard. Avoid crowded spaces. Celebrate whatever you wish to celebrate in your own living space. People are dying. Hospitals are full. Nurses and other healthcare workers are exhausted. They are packing double shifts. They are seeing more people dying on their watch than ever before. It will take years for them to heal from this trauma.

To those with the attitude “I've been tested, I'm negative, I'm okay. I don't need a mask. I can hang out with my friends”: don’t be stupid. The tests are showing up two things: the danger of being an asymptomatic carrier is that you infect others without having any visible symptoms yourself. The other is tests that come out as false negatives – people who look seriously ill but their tests results come back as negative. They are, however, gravely ill.

You can be standing in shopping queues, doing friendly banter with an asymptomatic person. Be resolute about wearing a mask. And be insistent about keeping 2m away from anyone – everywhere. Better still, stay away from crowded places. A few months ago, before the second wave arrived, I went to visit my mother, who is both blind and deaf in the old age home where she lives. I could only stand outside the building and see her through the security barrier. She is 90 years old and well cared for. When she was told that I was on the other side of the security barrier, she expressed the need to touch me. We have not touched each other for seven months. With mutually appropriate sanitation and body covers, she touched my one covered hand through the security barrier. The saddest part was to hear her say: “this doesn't feel like Lorenzo's hand.” Seven months of no contact had dulled her memory of what the contours of my hand felt like. I put it down to the protective coverings I had on. I am however grateful that at 90 years of age, she is still alive. She might not be able to see me or hear me, and may have also forgotten the contours of my hand, but I'm so glad that she is alive.

In having to choose between two things, I would rather choose her not recognising the contours of my hand during the pandemic, than me not having her around because of the pandemic. This is a time for collective, sacrificial citizenship. We cannot afford another enforced lockdown.

* Lorenzo A Davids is chief executive of the Community Chest.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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