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'Don't be scared SA, we will beat this': KZN doctor on Covid-19

27 April 2020 - 14:37 By Orrin Singh
Medical manager at Clairwood Hospital Dr Buyisiwe Mabaso.
Medical manager at Clairwood Hospital Dr Buyisiwe Mabaso.
Image: Orrin Singh

A KwaZulu-Natal doctor has offered a message of hope to all South Africans and health care workers who find themselves staring down the barrel of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Doctor Buyisiwe Mabaso, medical manager of Clairwood Hospital south of Durban, said the initial fear and anxiety that Covid-19 brought with it had somewhat run its course and was now being replaced by motivation. 

Mabaso spoke to TimesLIVE after a Freedom Day address by provincial premier Sihle Zikalala at the hospital on Monday. 

She said initially it was a bit overwhelming for the doctors and nurses at the public facility. 

“This is a new virus that we had never seen before in the world, and judging by what has been happening in other countries - initially everyone was a bit more worried, especially because they are health care workers in the front line and they go home to their families.” 

She said motivation had now replaced the fear and worry that initially gripped many of her staff at the hospital. 

“They are a bit more at ease but we are taking each day as it comes and trying to do the best we can for our patients.”

We know that our nation is scared, but they mustn't be scared, we're actually going to beat this
Clairwood Hospital medical manager Dr Buyisiwe Mabaso 

She said the hospital was being renovated and a number of new isolation and quarantine wards would soon be available for use. 

Mabaso added that staff were constantly being updated with new guidelines, set out by the department of health, and would discuss these matters daily. 

“We update staff in an attempt to share knowledge of the whole pandemic and the disease process ... to understand it better.” 

During his address Zikalala saluted all the health care workers fighting Covid-19 at a huge risk to their own health and safety. 

He said nurses, doctors, community health care workers and various professionals in the health sector were human beings with families and anxieties like all of us.

“They live in communities where they can be ostracised or face stigma. Like all of us, nurses, doctors, and general hospital workers are concerned about their safety and health. It is normal for them too, to worry about who will look after their loved ones should they be infected and not recover. With the high risk of their work, they too are concerned about the prospect of infecting their loved ones.”

His interaction with hospital staff came a day after his announcement on Sunday that 121 health care workers had tested positive in the province - up from 108 last week. 

He said the government remained concerned at the emerging situation in eThekwini regarding the rising rate of infections.

Zikalala lauded the commitment of health workers, on a day in which the country celebrates 26 years of democratic freedom, and paid homage to some of the stalwarts in the profession.

“Your sacrifices assure us that the hard work and sacrifices of nurses like Cecilia Makiwane, Albertina Sisulu, Dr AB Xuma, Dr Yusuf Dadoo, Dr Neil Aggett, and Dr Abu-Baker Asvat were not in vain,” he said. 

Meanwhile, head of the provincial health department Dr Sandile Tshabalala, said it was too early to say if eThekwini would remain at level 5 lockdown.

“We're still doing the screening and testing. We've screened more than one million people and tests are ongoing. eThekwini remains the epicentre of this virus in the province so we want to ensure we intensify the work we are doing. If that means continuing with the lockdown we will have to,” said Tshabalala. 

A decision on eThekwini's lockdown status is most likely to be announced by health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, and Zikalala before Friday - when parts of the country are expected to downgrade from level 5 to level 4 lockdown.