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Coronavirus in SA: 'Sense of unease working with a virus of this nature' says Gauteng doctor

Suhayl Essa

Suhayl Essa

Published Apr 3, 2020

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Durban - SUHAYL Essa, a medical doctor and stand-up comedian in Houghton, Johannesburg, said patients were streaming into the causality department with concerns about the coronavirus.

“A lot of the patients come in with respiratory symptoms, apart from the simple accident cases,” said Essa, 27, a general practitioner in the emergency department of various private hospitals.

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The locum doctor, who fills in for other doctors, said all the hospitals he was working at have been mandated to assist with Covid-19 patients.

He said he usually worked a 12-hour shift, from 7am to 7pm, but it was not unusual for doctors to work a 24 to 30-hour shift.

Essa said there was a sense of unease working with a virus of this nature but it was important not to panic. He said hospitals have been screening patients as they entered.

“We have taken the necessary safety precautions at the front desk of our hospitals. There is a screening process where we ask patients a few questions and, if they are deemed high-risk candidates, they will be isolated in a cubicle.

“They will be asked to put on a mask, gloves and a gown, and not to touch anyone.”

Those who show signs of the virus are taken to the respiratory ward for an examination.

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He said, at the moment, there was no specific ward that had been set up for Covid-19 infected patients.

“They are sent to the general respiratory ward, where specialist respiratory doctors will assess them and treat them accordingly.”

He said private hospitals have not been mandated to quarantine patients - only state hospitals were required to do so.

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Essa said if doctors developed symptoms of Covid-19, they would have to follow the same procedures as any citizen would.

“They would have to self-quarantine for 14 days, as opposed to coming in and getting tested. If they experience severe symptoms, then they would be required to come in for a test.”

He said about 60% to 80% of those infected would not develop severe symptoms.

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“You will develop mild symptoms and recover from it like the general flu.

“For those with severe symptoms, like shortness of breath and fever, you have a reason for concern. Contact the Department of Health immediately.”

As a stand-up comedian, Essa said he did a podcast daily, at 9pm, called The Daily Dose.

“I speak about the pandemic and provide advice where I can. These podcasts are later uploaded to my social media platforms.”

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