Seven residents at the Aryan Benevolent Home in Pietermaritzburg are suspected to have died of Covid-19 in the past 10 days.
Seven residents at the Aryan Benevolent Home in Pietermaritzburg are suspected to have died of Covid-19 in the past 10 days.

Anxiety as seven die at PMB old age home in 10 days

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Jul 29, 2020

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Durban - Seven residents at the Aryan Benevolent Home in Pietermaritzburg are suspected to have died of Covid-19 in the past 10 days.

Since the start of the lockdown, six residents from the home are believed to have contracted the virus.

Chairperson of the Pietermaritzburg ABH, Dev Naidoo, said they were still awaiting confirmation on the number of deaths as a result of Covid-19.

As a precaution, all residents have been placed in isolation, Naidoo said.

He said since the start of the national lockdown in March, the home was at full capacity with 32 residents.

As of this week, there are 21 residents and 24 staff members staying on-site.

“In April, a 61-year-old woman died. In May, a 103-year-old man and two women aged above 80 passed on. Since July 17 though, four women and three men have died. They were all aged above 75 and had comorbidities due to their age,” he said.

Naidoo said the elderly residents were struggling to cope with the deaths of their friends, coupled with living in isolation.

“We take them out one by one to enjoy some fresh air and to get some sunlight. They do social distance when outside and when inside, they are isolated. It’s sad but it has to be done.”

He said the deaths of friends, lack of socialising and the ban on visitors at the home had resulted in many residents becoming “withdrawn and quiet”.

“They are one family here. Not everyone has a family that worries about them. They really just have each other.

“They are suffering from anxiety with the deaths around them and for some, their eating habits have changed for the worse,” he said.

Presently, the ABH Pietermaritzburg has two residents who tested positive for Covid-19.

Finance MEC Ravi Pillay visited the home this week to convey his condolences to staff and residents.

He also used the visit to engage with the management of the facility on some of the challenges they’re faced with.

Naidoo said this included lack of funds, as their expenses increased with all 24 staff staying on the premises since the start of lockdown.

“We have had to get in more beds, cater to more people with regards to food and water and electricity. We have also started giving residents multi-vitamins and try to get fresh fruit in as often as possible to boost their immune systems,” he said.

While the ABH Pietermaritzburg is subsidised by the government, Naidoo said it only covered about half their costs.

He thanked the community for coming together where they could, but added the challenges still prevailed.

“We know this is such a difficult time for everyone and we cannot garner as many donations as we usually could, given the circumstances. As the quote goes, ‘I cried because I had no shoes and then I met a man without feet’.

“There are always people worse off than us, but let us help each other where we can,” Naidoo said.

Mercury

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