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‘We are in big trouble, it’s time to wake up’: Gauteng doctor as Covid-19 cases increase

15 June 2021 - 12:59 By iavan pijoos
Dr Marlin McKay, who runs his own medical practice in Roodepoort, contracted Covid-19 despite having the J&J jab in February.
Dr Marlin McKay, who runs his own medical practice in Roodepoort, contracted Covid-19 despite having the J&J jab in February.
Image: Supplied

A Gauteng doctor who tested positive for Covid-19 months after receiving the vaccine has warned that hospitals are full and no-one should become complacent.

“The situation is dire and hospitals are full. There is a lack of and shortage of ICU beds for patients. We are in big trouble and we are nowhere near the peak of the third wave of infections,” Dr Marlin McKay told TimesLIVE on Tuesday.

McKay, who runs his own practice in Florida, Roodepoort, received a dose of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine in February.

McKay said he was in his ninth day of isolation and still had a bad cough and tight chest.

“What goes through my mind is what if I did not receive the vaccine because the science tells us the vaccine is not 100% protective against getting Covid-19, but it is highly effective against hospitalisation.

“If I did not have my vaccination I would have felt much worse and probably ended up in hospital. I am thrilled I had the vaccine, and that my illness is mild compared to what it could have been. I am hoping I make a full recovery and very soon,” said McKay.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Monday said Gauteng accounted for more than two-thirds of the 5,500 Covid-19 cases recorded across SA in 24-hours.

The latest national figures show there were 5,552 new infections recorded, with 3,720 of those (67%) recorded in Gauteng.

McKay said there had been an increase in the positivity rate among patients in the province.  

He sees 30 to 40 patients by appointment per day and has observed a drastic increase in patients testing positive for Covid-19 since May.

We are playing with our own lives and our families’ lives.
Dr Marlin McKay

“This morning before 9am I am sitting with five or six new patients who tested positive overnight. There is a drastic increase and I have no doubt we are in the third wave and nowhere near the peak.

“I am starting to think, what is going to happen when we reach that peak if this is the situation now? In January and February we experienced the second wave and it was rough, but it was nowhere near as busy as it is now,” he said.

McKay said from the middle of May to date, he recorded 105 positive Covid-19 cases at his practice. “That’s only from my little practice and I think that is quite a lot. I have never been so busy so quickly during the previous two waves.

“The big difference with this wave is how quickly it affects entire families. In no time, mother, father and children all have Covid-19. I have not seen that before.”

He said it has become more challenging to get patients admitted at private hospitals in Gauteng, especially over weekends.

“There are no beds available, or very few beds. Over weekends when a patient crashes at home, they call me and I call the emergency services. They come out but when the patient needs to be admitted, the ambulance personnel tell us the hospitals are all on divert [not accepting patients from ambulances].

“That is a crisis and we are in trouble.”

McKay said it was also worrying to see a rise in infections among the younger generation. 

“More school-going children, younger people and younger adults than before are testing positive.

“There is an attitude that it is not serious, you are young and you will get a mild illness. However, a person with a mild illness can pass it on to someone with comorbidities and that person can die.

“We are not taking it seriously enough. This thing needs to be beaten at home.”

In a bid to curb the rapid spread of infections in the province, McKay said better control of human behaviour was key.

“We know the behaviour of the coronavirus and we can control that. What we are battling to control is human behaviour. We need to take ownership and control of this virus and control our behaviour.

“We tend to let our guard down, let our mask down and become complacent. This has increased the risk of transmission. It is time we wake up because South Africans are not taking it seriously enough. We are playing with our own lives and our families’ lives.”