Pretoria – Healthcare professionals and organisations have pleaded with South Africans to continue treating the Covid-19 pandemic as they did during the stricter alert levels of the lockdown.
The country eased the lockdown from level 2 to 1 at midnight.
The SA Medical Association warned the public not to be fooled into thinking the pandemic was over or that the disease had been beaten.
Its chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee, said despite the good recovery rate, communities should remain vigilant and protect themselves as best they could. Coetzee said it was important to note that while the economy was opening up as the lockdown eased, people also had to accept that there was no vaccine and no cure for the disease.
“Covid-19 is still with us, and there will still be people who remain in danger of contracting it, so it is our collective responsibility to ensure we continue taking preventive measures to curb its spread.
“This is the correct move at the right time, and we support this development. However, we stand by the president (Cyril Ramaphosa) when he calls on South Africans to continue practising social distancing and observing all safety measures such as wearing masks and hand sanitising.”
Medical expert Dr Lehlohonolo Majake-Mogoba said while the move to level 1 was long overdue, for many health-care professionals who were strained psychologically and emotionally, it was a stressful time.
She said this was due to the fact that when everybody else was going into lockdown, health-care professionals had to gear up to be the front line of something they didn’t know.
And, subsequent to that, a lot of professionals had fallen ill, while others had even lost friends and colleagues to the virus.
“We’ve got a lot of professionals who are really burnt out and exhausted, as along with Covid-19 came other illnesses, like violence and domestic abuse matters. And even though they try to dissociate it, it has been emotionally draining.”
Majake-Mogoba said the biggest challenge they faced was the emotional and mental toll fighting the disease had on workers who had contracted the virus.
It was difficult to get workers back to a normal routine, as many battled the fear of possibly getting reinfected, and whether their bodies would be able to handle the virus again.
At the same time they had to deal with convincing people that hospitals were clean and they could come and be well managed without contracting the disease.
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** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za