Please play your part

Grocott's Mail - - News - By JU­LIAN JA­COBS

As of Wed­nes­day 24 June, the Makana mu­nic­i­pal area had 98 ac­tive coro­n­avirus cases, with 138 to­tal cases and 39 re­cov­er­ies. Of this fig­ure, Makhanda has the high­est num­ber of in­fec­tions, with 95 ac­tive cases and 36 re­cov­er­ies to date.

Mo­hamed Do­crat, the Chief Phar­ma­cist in the Depart­ment of Health's Makana Sub­dis­trict, is cur­rently its act­ing head and rep­re­sents the Depart­ment on the Makana Covid-19 Joint Op­er­a­tions Com­mit­tee.

He is con­cerned that the com­mu­nity should act with care and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ac­tions when they ven­ture out­side their homes.

In his Beau­fort Street of­fice, Do­crat's phone rings con­stantly, as more and more new Covid-19 cases are re­ported.

As I wait out­side his of­fice, he is busy giv­ing or­ders to a nursing su­per­vi­sor.

Al­ready she has four cases that she must in­ves­ti­gate. One is at a lo­cal school, where one of the teach­ers has Coro­n­avirus symp­toms. The school is un­der pres­sure from the unions to close it and the nursing su­per­vi­sor must as­sess the sit­u­a­tion. As she leaves, an­other call comes in.

A Covid-19 pa­tient is wait­ing to be picked up from Bathurst. Do­crat calls the am­bu­lance driver and the nursing su­per­vi­sor for that area and the ball is rolling.

Since the week­end there have been 67 new ac­tive cases. By the time I reach his of­fice at 2pm on Mon­day, 10 more ac­tive cases have been added. By Wed­nes­day there are 95 ac­tive cases.

I ask him what he'd like res­i­dents to know.

"We are try­ing to reach only the peo­ple who have had close con­tact with a known Covid-19 per­son," Do­crat says. "In other words, we are only test­ing peo­ple who have symp­toms and have come into con­tact with a known pos­i­tive case. And by close con­tact we mean, that any per­son who was within 1.5 me­tres of the pos­i­tive per­son, or spent more than 15 min­utes with said pos­i­tive per­son.”

Many peo­ple were in­sist­ing on be­ing tested if one per­son within their work­place or at home had tested pos­i­tive.

"This is not the case," Do­crat says.

What should hap­pen per­son tests pos­i­tive?

"The pa­tient will be in­formed. The pa­tient will re­ceive coun­selling on how to if a self iso­late and to man­age that sit­u­a­tion. If a pa­tient can’t self iso­late at home, we would provide a space for the per­son; how­ever, beds are al­ready be­ing taken up fast,” Do­crat said.

The of­fi­cial time to self-iso­late is nor­mally 14 days, "but taken into con­sid­er­a­tion must be the time you were ex­posed to some­one who was pos­i­tive," Do­crat says.

Once you're in iso­la­tion, it's only if you show symp­toms that you'll be tested.

"There is a form that you need to com­plete on a daily ba­sis to track your symp­toms."

He urges res­i­dents and work­ers to not fake symp­toms, to not state they've been in close con­tact with some­one in or­der to get tested un­nec­es­sar­ily, which has been the case over the past month.

“The Makana Health sub­dis­trict of­fice has de­vised a plan to cater for all the re­gions in our dis­trict in the re­sponse to the Coro­n­avirus," Do­crat says. "Our staff are ready to as­sist, but we need ev­ery­one’s help to fight this bat­tle.”

Along with the Makana Covid-19 Joint Op­er­at­ing Com­mit­tee, Do­crat urges res­i­dents to stay safe as Coro­n­avirus num­bers rapidly climb in our area.

“Stay at home when you are not at work or at school. Stop so­cial­is­ing or vis­it­ing friends just be­cause the lock­down lev­els are lifted," Do­crat says.

"Stay at home also means not go­ing to Bathurst, Port El­iz­a­beth, King Wil­liam’s Town or East Lon­don.

"And if you are at work, avoid can­teens and tea­rooms and lunches with­out masks. Em­ploy­ers must en­sure that they min­i­mize risks and that all staff must un­dergo Covid-19 train­ing.”

Seven schools in the Makana mu­nic­i­pal area have re­ported cases of Covid-19 among learn­ers and teach­ers since schools have re­opened. Some have been urged to close. Oth­ers have re­mained open, hav­ing un­der­gone the cor­rect pro­to­cols to clean and sani­tise them. Sev­eral other work­places have become hotspots and the same deep­clean­ing and sani­tis­ing has taken place.

Over the next few weeks and days, along with other mem­bers of the Makana JOC, I will be out in the com­mu­nity, en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­one to play their part in slow­ing the spread of the virus in our com­mu­ni­ties. The JOC in­di­cated that ward coun­cil­lors will play a big­ger role in this ini­tia­tive.

We know that the Coro­n­avirus af­fects all of us. It in­fects the rich and the poor, the young and the old, black and white, those who live in the cities and those in the vil­lages. And stigma keeps us from de­feat­ing it.

• Ju­lian Ja­cobs is head of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions unit for the Makana Covid-19 Joint Op­er­at­ing Com­mit­tee and this ar­ti­cle is writ­ten in that ca­pac­ity.

Photo (2016): Sue Ma­clen­nan

Mo­hamed Do­crat, act­ing man­ager of the Depart­ment of Health's Makana Sub­dis­trict, asks the com­mu­nity to play their part in Covid-19 safety.

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