CAPE TOWN – They are the unsung heroes in the fight against COVID-19.
Gloved and behind a mask, medical personnel leave their families to care for patients whom they barely know.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday announced there were currently a total of 1,380 cases in the country, an increase of 27 from Tuesday’s figure.
WATCH: Mkhize launches COVID-19 mobile testing units
First-year intern at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital’s internal medicine division, Dr Naeem Vallee, is part of a medical team facing COVID-19 head-on.
While writing his final exam at Wits Medical School last year, Vallee never imagined he’d help in the fight against a global pandemic.
“It’s been a completely foreign experience and a very scary one at that. It’s definitely something I don’t think even very senior doctors could have anticipated. I think we all are sailing into uncharted territories here.”
Like so many South Africans facing the dangers of a possible coronavirus infection, Vallee’s threat is more immediate.
“We do obviously have hope and we’re optimistic about the situation and hope that things, in lieu of the lockdown, we can at least try to flatten the curve and buffer the spread of the virus. However, we do have a realistic outlook and we actually are quite terrified.”
The young doctor said that if people did not adhere to regulations implemented to flatten the curve, it would have disastrous consequences for the country.
“If we do follow the trajectory of this virus similar to Italy’s, we’re in for a terrible health crisis.”
In light of a global shortage of personal protective equipment, Vallee urged people who had stocks of masks and gloves to donate them to the healthcare facilities.
“I implore those who are hoarding masks or have N95s available for sale to perhaps donate if they can to any health facility. Healthcare workers are the third most vulnerable population after already sick patients, so it puts into perspective that we are really at the front line and really are at risk.”
For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.