There is neither space nor sufficient oxygen points at emergency departments. Oxygen concentrators are in critically short supply as patients opt for Home Based Care, as an alternative means of survival and out of fear, anxiety and loneliness associated with hospital admission.
The shortage of nurses, general practitioners and specialists from various disciplines compounds an already fragile health system.
“Prevention is better than cure” is very real now more than ever in our history, medically speaking. Responsible citizenry among ALL sixty million in this country is key. The “sacrifice” being requested is minimal and temporary for a sublime purpose – the saving of life, which in essence could be that of YOUR spouse, child, parent, neighbour, teacher, healthcare worker or fellow South African. The greater the compliance, the faster the wave passes as the virus loses a “transport” medium and attachment to a new host to mutate further. The more they mutate, the greater the need to modify vaccines.
The application is simple and life saving:
• Avoid travel to and from the epicentre (or any infected area), which currently is Gauteng, ex-cept for emergency.
• Halt all family visits, baby showers, parties, weddings, irrespective whether five or fifty are in attendance. Just postpone, it’s temporary.
• Avoid alcohol or any intoxicating substance that will impair judgement or mindfulness. It takes a small "slip" and Delta will strike with devastating effect. This strain is highly virulent, rapidly transmissible and deadly, targeting all ages including babies, the super fit, the vaccinated and even those that have no co-morbidities.
• Shop responsibly, keeping a safe distance, avoid congestion, mask and sanitise. Mask must be donned once in public. Only remove your mask once you are back home and have washed your hands thoroughly.
• Ensure good ventilation at home, car and work place.
• Restaurants and eating places to ensure good ventilation or encourage outdoor dining although winter is restrictive. Livelihoods are dependent on economic activity. This can be achieved responsibly.
• Healthcare workers to take precautions in congested and poorly ventilated tea and rest facilities at hospitals.
• Visiting bereaved families must be restricted and so too, numbers at funerals. This behaviour is totally foreign to our nature as compassionate, family oriented social beings, but ironically it is compassionate in its own right as it protects other family members from succumbing. We’ve experienced situations where up to 18 family members are infected in one house and where three or more family members, including couples, pass on within days of each other. Preventing heartache and grief, largely and practically is in our own hands through responsible citizenry.
• Be mindful of the “Peltzman Effect”. It explains that individuals are more likely to take greater risks when they feel protected. In the case of vaccination it is the mistaken belief that having been vaccinated protects the individual against getting infected and prevents transmission to others. All precautions as for the non-vaccinated apply.
Testing of nasopharyngeal swabs (substantially more reliable than oropharyngeal) for COVID-19 using the PCR method, rather than rapid antigen tests, is preferable and significantly more reliable during the wave. Unless you have symptoms, testing should be delayed for 48 to 72 hours as results may be falsely negative during the incubation period of the virus.
The stats being released every day are inaccurate, the situation is far worse than we understand. A large number of patients (anything from 50-90%) refuse to test. These are related to economic challenges, stigma and anxiety associated with a positive result. Laboratory “hopping” is a new phenomenon among those who test positive, repeating it at other facilities in the hope that the initial result was incorrect. Denial, disbelief or other emotions we experience: we need to be responsible and inform those that we were in contact with about our positive status. Isolation, whilst awaiting results and 10-day quarantine whilst healing, is “compassionate” to fellow human beings.
These are simple processes to apply, it’s not for a long time, is life saving and what all scriptures would expect from us: “He who saved one life, saved the whole of mankind”. Any individual, religious teacher or healthcare worker who encourages flouting the rules of prevention and preservation, is not acting in the interests of humanity.
Imtiaz Sooliman is the Founder of Gift of the Givers.