File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

Two Durban women fight for their lives after coronavirus hits retirement home

By Nathan Craig Time of article published Mar 29, 2020

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Durban - Two elderly Durban women from a retirement village have tested positive for Covid-19 and are fighting for their lives.

One victim, aged 81, and a resident at the Bill Buchanan Association for the Aged, is being treated at St Augustine’s Hospital. The other, aged 78, is in isolation at the Bill Buchanan village in Morningside.

Their diagnosis created fear and panic among those linked to the establishment.

After the women tested positive, Health Department officials visited the home on Friday to screen residents and check isolation arrangements. Their tests included three staff members.

Scared families and friends have been inundating the home with telephone inquiries since Thursday, worried about the wellbeing of their loved ones.

On Saturday, Dudley Fortune, CEO of the association, said there was no need to panic. Everything was “under control”, and there were notices for residents posted in the corridors, stairways and lifts on the virus and prevention.

The 81-year-old woman was tested for Covid-19 on March 22.

Her results returned on Tuesday, undetermined. But she continued to display symptoms of the virus.

“They were sent back to Johannesburg, and upon further testing, she was confirmed positive”, said Fortune.

The son of the 81-year-old woman said: “ We are saddened, but have come to terms with the fact that she could die”.

Last night, she was on a ventilator.

The 78-year-old woman, a long-standing resident, shared a room with the 81-year-old and also showed symptoms.

She was sent to Addington Hospital and tested on Tuesday. She was then returned to the retirement home and was isolated pending the results.

Confirmation of the virus came on Friday. She is in a critical condition at the home, in an isolation room.

Sixteen nurses and three kitchen staff who had direct contact with the two women were being brought back to the home to be tested by the Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Fortune reassured families that every precaution was being taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“We have five residents in self-made isolation wards which are being attended to by nurses. The woman with the virus is among the five.

“The other residents who had direct contact with the women are also in isolation. The isolation ward is the Emmerson building and a maximum of 50 people are in there”, said Fortune.

He said they were in communication with the relevant authorities.

Jody Tucker, the matron at the home, said they were also in touch with the residents’ families.

“There was panic at first, but the families understand that all the relevant authorities and every precaution is being taken for their loved ones.

“The staff have also been briefed and are fully trained. They have been given protective gear, but there is a shortage of masks and sanitisers”, said Tucker.

The first Covid-19 death in South Africa was recorded on Friday and the number of cases was yesterday put at 1 187 by the Department of Health, but it noted this total was incomplete.

Sunday Tribune

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