Stop socialising: Covid-19 plea by member of trust for newborns

12 June 2020 - 15:34 By Alex Patrick
A board member of the Groote Schuur’s Newborns Trust said it was heartbreaking that new fathers couldn't visit their babies.
A board member of the Groote Schuur’s Newborns Trust said it was heartbreaking that new fathers couldn't visit their babies.
Image: 123RF/sam74100

A member of the board of Newborns Trust at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town wishes people would take the coronavirus more seriously.

In a Twitter thread on Thursday evening, Rachelle Bricou said she wasn't giving medical advice but wanted to speak directly to people who were carrying on normally with their lives.

Her comments came after a trust meeting that day where the discussion focused on the fact that fathers couldn't visit their newborns in the hospital.

She wrote: “To the people doing their own thing (including parties, drinks with mates, braais, and so on), this is the type of ‘thing’ that only hits home when it literally hits home — ie when someone you love and care about either dies from the virus or is horrifically sick.

“And if not you and/or your family, you potentially affect another family and their loved ones. Don’t be selfish.

“If you do end up in ICU, you are alone. Alone. No family to visit. No one to hold your hand. If you don’t survive, you die alone. And your family lives with not being able to be with you at the end.

“This is NOT only an ‘old people’ or ‘compromised people’ disease. Sure, they are the highest risk but they are not the only risk [sic].

“If your attitude is that they died of an underlying disease and not the virus, you’re factually wrong. They died of the virus. Maybe they would have lived a lot longer if not for the virus. Maybe they wouldn’t have. But it was the virus that killed them.

“It is an awful illness if you get it really badly. Awful. And again, a lonely one. If you think it won’t happen to you, why won’t it? What if you have an underlying disease you don’t know about it? What if.”

The tweet was mostly met with agreement but, speaking to TimesLIVE on Friday, Bricou said there were still a few tweets telling her to “be quiet”.

She said many people did not realise that they could be carriers of the disease and that they were putting other people at risk.

“My mom has lung tumor. She's healthy now, but despite the fact that she lives five minutes away I haven't seen her in months. I don't want to be the reason that someone dies. And it upsets me that my neighbours are having parties and braais all the time.”

Amy MacIver, another member of the board, said things had changed in the newborn unit since the advent of Covid-19.

“It's quite interesting what's happening at the unit. Usually we have around 75-80 babies who were born premature and/or born with illnesses or other conditions.  

“But since coronavirus the unit is packed — all the time.”

She said the stress of the virus was causing women to go into early labour.

She said it was heartbreaking because many of these mothers hadn't expected early labour and were unprepared for hospital. She said it was worse because they weren't allowed to see visitors and in some cases fathers had not seen their own newborns for up to three months.

“On the other hand we have received massive second-hand donations for these mothers. We also received a Wi-Fi donation so moms can send pics and have face time with fathers.”

She said because of the Wi-Fi new moms were spending more time with their babies than usual.

“So the breastfeeding rates are up and this month and we are using less donated milk than ever before.”