Gauteng is preparing for the worst as the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing rapidly. This is a daunting prospect for essential workers, some of whom are re-entering the lion’s den right after recovering from the virus.

Gauteng is expected to become the epicentre of the virus. Logically, this would mean Gauteng will surpass the Western Cape which currently has the highest cases countrywide.

Now the pressure is mounting over the safety of healthcare workers and the capacity within facilities.

Bandile Masuku says he expects the province’s COVID-19 cases to surpass the Western Cape figures: 

Road to recovery

A nurse at one of Gauteng’s public hospitals contracted the virus on the job. He recounts his experience.

“I was having a high fever. I had shortness of breath and a difficult cough. Then I decided to consult. After six hours that day, they called me and said I tested positive.”

His condition worsened, landing him in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

“The high-flow machine is the one that is connected to your use and helps you breathe when your lungs are weak. It’s attached to the nostrils and it is very uncomfortable and sometimes you struggle to breathe.”

The road to recovery was lonely and difficult. The health practitioner says the experience also took a toll on his mental health.

“Because of this traumatic experience, I have to arrange and decided to go home and see my family and it was difficult for them to accept because really I was not sick, I was dying. I had to explain to my kids that I am here and I am trying because I may look physically fit, but mentally I need to recover. It’s very difficult for me to return to where I was working because remember I can even see the bed I was lying on. So, mentally I have to recover,” says the nurse.

‘Stigmatisation’

Despite first-hand access to information and knowledge on the virus, healthcare workers say they are not exempt from stigmatisation. The social stigma around the virus is the cause behind him remaining anonymous.

His appeal to the public as we approach the peak season is for everyone to abide by the regulations.

“I understand that the hospital is going to be full now because most people are not complying and taking this virus seriously. As a healthcare worker, I emphasise that people need to follow what the government said,” says the nurse.

As it stands, the country has already surpassed the 200 000 mark on positive cases. The number of active cases in Gauteng is expected to exceed those of the Western Cape.

“It was not expected to happen this soon. It was expected to happen around July. At the current rate, we are seeing fast increase and it’s related to how the behaviour has turned out during lockdown Level 3,” Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku said.

Of the over 200 000 confirmed cases, over 100 000 recoveries have been recorded. So far, over 3 500 deaths have been reported in the country.

In the video below, healthcare workers express concern as Gauteng is expected to be SA’s COVID-19 epicentre: