WATCH | Surviving the second wave: Anxiety & fatigue on the Covid front line

09 February 2021 - 06:00 By emile bosch

South African front-line health-care staff have been tirelessly battling the Covid-19 pandemic since the country's first cases were recorded in March 2020.  

At Tembisa Hospital, near the nation's capital, head of internal medicine Dr Portia Ngwata says she hasn't taken a day off since the start of the pandemic. 

“I personally haven't taken leave since 2020 until today. My staff, the leave that they actually have is when they're sick. We've got continuous fatigue. We just wish this virus would give us a break,” Ngwata says. 

During the initial outbreak of the virus, sister Lydia Dikeledi Mathibela spent her 12-hour shifts caring for Covid positive patients in the hospital's then repurposed family medicine ward. 

“I thought maybe I'd lose my family, maybe I'd even die now,” the single mother says.  

Paramedic Clive Moeleso says during the second wave, a day wouldn't pass without himself or one of his colleagues transporting a suspected Covid-positive patient. 

“It affects you when you know you may pass it to someone who is close to you, like someone you care about,” the paramedic says. 

As numbers increased rapidly, Aboo Sayed and his team at Saaberie Chishty Burial Society battled to keep up with an increased need for funeral services. 

“Personally I feel a lot of anxiety, we don't know when the peak hits, how many the numbers will be,” Sayed says. 

These sentiments echo the anxiety and anguish experienced by thousands of front-line workers, battling to protect citizens from the devastating effects of the virus across the country.