COVID-19, Update : The unvarnished truth.

COVID-19, Update : The unvarnished truth.

I smile as I read Gargi’s comment about the creative juices trickling. On this sunny spectrum, the mind has been full to overflowing with creativity with no outlet other the need to survive the daily working grind. Sadly, the return to work has been anything but pleasant as South Africa heads into the eye of the COVID storm.

Cases in South Africa, as on Monday 29 June, totalled 144,264 while 1,567,084 tests had been conducted, with 38,075 new tests reported. This past week alone has netted cases of almost 5000+ per day. A total of 2,456 deaths have been recorded while 68,925 people have recovered.

Globally, there is a confirmed 10 268 786 confirmed cases with 504 345 deaths, a total of 5 209 809 have recovered.

With the ease of the lockdown, the working force is back in almost full force, most people almost itching to get back to routine and others, like me, not so much! Yes, yes, I know the flagging economy which has taken a beating. We concede that the government has been over-extended financially and a solid footing is required, especially in the tourism sector. The financial hiccups for every person has been felt acutely. Those that could and can help, have come together in the true South African spirit of Ubuntu. Yet needs must be met and families fed which sadly means that the congregation of people in mines and factories have amplified cluster outbreaks, especially the public transport travellers as taxis and busses are filling to capacity, some out of desperation and others ruthlessly greedy or uncaring, but all completely disregarding regulations.

Yet another speech from the President’s desk has outlined that some South Africans are not respecting themselves and others by not adhering to the most crucial “non-pharmaceutical” interventions – washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.

Government has pleaded with the citizens to remember the consequences. Gauteng, a seven hour drive away from me has spiralled alarmingly in their cases and a stricter lockdown for this province is being seriously considered by officials. Rightfully so, I say.

As it is, the Eastern Cape, severely disadvantaged that it is, and where thankfully, my husband is no longer stationed for work, is considered a Covid Disaster Zone because people simply did not adhere to the regulations favouring socializing, drinking and lack of social distancing. There have been accounts of people dying in the streets and maternity nursing personnel, simply not pitching up for work, as they fear their lives and those of their loved ones. Simply because people have been stupidly ignorant. Many lives were lost whilst waiting for help. Funeral homes and mortuaries are filled to capacity.

Is South Africa going to be the next Italy or Spain?
Appeals to the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to close schools have fallen on deaf ears and as infections are certain to continue to spike, especially during the mid-winter with confusing similarities to COVID-19 symptoms. Thankfully, my kids have completed their secondary education. I would not have sent them back for the remainder of the year. A year lost in comparison to a child lost? Over-dramatic? No. Reality yes.

I cringed and found myself at a loss for words, when I read that a jogger had found hundreds of used test kits callously disposed off on a highway.

This idea of the restaurants, cinemas and casinos (why?!) being opened brings renewed anxiety as the major infection hot spots are the malls and the business districts.
High movements = high risks of transmissions.

Our President, in his concern for his people, instigated the lockdown to enable the healthcare facilities to be brought to speed to cope with the virus. It has been an eye-opener and in hindsight, that five week lockdown should be implemented now, as we stumble through the shocking crisis.

Imagine being separated from your loved ones, put at the mercy of severely overwhelmed medical personnel and strangers? Quarantined and now with the healthcare facilities packed to overflowing, left to die?

That Pierre Cardin bag that I lusted over has been shelved. That restaurant meal is it worth it? No, not at all. I cannot get the image of someone inadvertently contaminating that outing. The forays into the commercial zones have restricted, almost, as if we are still in the severest stage of lockdown. When I venture out, it is in protective gear, only for the pharmaceutical essentials and groceries. Wants do not feature now. Especially in this cash strapped climate. I certainly do not want to pay to get COVID-19.

Having been back at work for the past two months, keeping tabs on worldwide activities, yet trying to keep afloat locally, interaction with any person is still considered a threat. That dear colleague sputtering his cough into his elbow and mask had to return to work. As I had to. Social distancing, sanitising, trendy masks, and gloves, thermometers, all have become the new norm.

The new norm entails :

  • Unemployment
  • Death of small businesses
  • Drastic salary cuts as much as 25% or 50%
  • Longer working hours
  • Concerted efforts at Business Development
  • Tendering with offers of massive discounts
  • Increased travel costs as the reduced petrol prices dangled during the lockdown, escalates
  • Increased food costs
  • Employers using Government aided funds and not reimbursing the workers
  • Employers using Government aided funds and reimbursing workers fractionally
  • Suze Orman’s refrains, “Is it a want or a need?”
  • Increased anxiety over health and well-being, in every aspect
  • Debit orders bouncing as the banks and insurers retrieve their umbrella of help that was restricted to just the month
  • Inability to save towards retirement
  • Inability to pay towards hospital and medical plans
  • Threats of redundancy, thereby prompting the acceptance of pittance salary decrees
  • A fear to enter a hospital, fearing an outcome far worse

Thankfully social media has allowed us to keep in touch with loved ones, that dreaded zoom meeting is still preferred. Those memes that maintain that women sans make-up are not available after 9pm because they have been reset to factory settings? I’ll take that.

Months of not seeing my 78 year old Mom fuelled a drive-by meet and greet. No hugs, just emotionally charged chats. The risk for her is far greater. At this age, she is so fragile, the nephew has warned that her two favourite treats, bananas and avocados are unwelcome. The presented milk tarts and the smiles spoke volumes. Simple gestures, the rainbows of our new lives.

Stay protected, safe and keep other safe.

20 thoughts on “COVID-19, Update : The unvarnished truth.

  1. Wow – it sounds like things are getting really difficult there. Scary to see. I hope more people there start to comply as well there with lockdown and then with masks. This really seems to be the way forward with the new future being somewhere between the old normal and what you described. We’re seeing a gradual opening up but as we speak a mandatory mask rule (indoor public spaces) is going to be voted on by our city council. From what I’m seeing this is the compromise between complete closure and an irresponsible opening of everything (Casinos? Really?!?!)

    Also all the test kits disposed on the side of the road makes me think of what’s bugging me lately. Littering has always bothered me but now I’m seeing used masks and gloves on the ground. Trash is bad enough, but potentially deadly trash is just too much.

    You & your family stay safe, Kavitha.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this post, Kavita. People here in America are so weary of the “new normal” that some seem to be in denial, abandoning the masks and pretending we’re out of the woods. I’m tired, too, but as a Christ-follower I don’t ever want to be, or give the impression that I am, unconcerned about the people around me. Yes, I’m healthy and not concerned that Covid would kill me (unless God has ordained that it’s my time to go), but not everyone is blessed with my health or even knows the Lord I love. I don’t want to forfeit my right to talk to anyone about the gospel just because I didn’t want to be temporarily inconvenienced for their sake.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kavitha, thanks for the COVID update in your part of the world. In my world, we are breaking all kinds of records…the wrong kind. I share your concern about not sending children back to school. “A year lost in comparison to a child lost?” is not over-dramatic. It’s the reality that parents with school-age children must carefully weigh.

    On May 28th, after the State of California began opening select businesses under strict safety regulations, I left my safe zone of then 78 days to make quick stops at my bank and the supermarket. Then, I waited for fourteen days before venturing out again. Now, with a surge in new cases, I’m questioning my 14-day strategy for returning to the new normal of life in a pandemic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Im so glad to see your post Rosaliene. Ive been thinking about you. Ive been swamped with work and lifes been dirty.
      Follow your instinct.
      I want to share something my nursing friend agrees with…

      For those who are questioning the severity of the situation. I work in state in an ICU.

      Please read these words CAREFULLY:

      Today – there are no ICU beds left. Not. One. Bed.

      Also:

      Paying for medical aid does NOT equate to having a bed in a private hospital – be it an ICU or high care or ward. Medical aid payments do not equate to a reserved bed for you or your dependents.

      There are NO beds left.

      We have a waiting list for patients who qualify and need ICU care – there are not enough beds, or ICU trained staff (doctors or nursing staff) which means there are NO BEDS LEFT. People are DYING on our waiting list.

      ICUs in PRIVATE are FULL. In the last week, young (and I mean 30-40 year olds) patients who were intubated could not get an bed in ICU. THEY DIED.

      Let me describe what could happen to you if you get COVID-19:

      Young people, again between 30-40 years old, with no medical conditions (NOT ONE) are getting sick. You’ll get to hospital, you’ll be put on oxygen, prescriptions for a whole bunch of IVI vitamins, steroids, immune modulators, and anticoagulants are written up and we pray it starts to help. You are breathing at a rate of 35-40 breaths per minute. For days on end. Normal breath rate is 12-20. Try this: try breathe at 40 breaths a minute – thats a full breath in an out in 1.5 seconds.

      People are tired of not getting out, of not getting back to social norms. People are being pushed to extremes who need to balance the risk of work in order to survive economically against the risk of infection and they are not equal, but please understand something:

      Breathing is a NATURAL, subconscious act. Almost every organism on earth does not have to consciously breathe. Patients are telling us that they are TIRED of breathing! Understand that. A natural subconscious autonomic bodily function, is TOO MUCH.

      It is at this point where we scurry to intubate you. Your saturations are at 80% maximum on 100% oxygen. Normal is above 88 and thats on room air which contains 21% oxygen) and this is with High Flow Nasal Oxygen (which is a set of tubes *FORCING* heated, humidified air in at a rate of 60l/minute – like air being forced at the rate of air coming out of your nose when you sneeze). All this while you are on your stomach to try and improve the ventilation to the basal areas of your lungs. Now we prepare everything for the intubation, for the invasive lines, and basically to take contorl over every body function we can. We turn you on your back. Your effort of breathing becomes infinitely harder. We put up a central line and an arterial line (WHICH IS EXCRUCIATING). And now we are “ready” to intubate.

      A normal intubation is done ONLY WHEN YOUR SATS ARE AT 100% for at least 3 minutes so that if there are issues we have some time to fix the problems.

      When we intubate a COVID-19 patient this is what happens:

      Max sats at induction (when we give the drugs to put you asleep so you are not aware of the tube being put through your windpipe) are 80%. We give a drug to sedate, followed IMMEDIATELY by a muscle relaxant (in a normal settings – it is only given once a patient is ASLEEP, which is about 10-30 seconds after being given the induction agent depending on the type of agent) because the sats start dropping INSTANTLY. We have to “wait” for the muscle relaxant to work or else we will not be able to intubate. You are still somewhat aware (awake) and now we have paralysed you. Your sats are now 60%. We cannot bag ventilate, we can do nothing but wait for the drugs to take effect. We try to intubate and in the process your saturation’s deteriorate to 40%, some even as low as single digits. The tube is in and your heart slows down to a rate of 30-40 (normal is 60-100, in extremis its above 100 (which is where you started)). Now we have to give you adrenaline to try and stop you from having an arrest because if you have a cardiac arrest you will die.

      Lets say you dont crash, the adrenaline works, and you are now intubated. We ram air into your lungs are pressures SO high it could cause a pneumothorax because we CANNOT oxygenate (get O2 into your body) or ventilate (get CO2 out of your body) and its a risk we have to take. We then place a tube in your nose and try and feed it into your stomach so we can feed you. Often it fails, we inadvertently cause trauma to your nasal passages and we have to try the other nostril.

      Now we try and ventilate you while you are on your back. When when that all fails we prone you – 6 people have to disconnect EVERYTHING but your ventilator, and turn you onto your stomach with pillows under your chest and pelvis and try to ventilate. Now on your stomach you develop pressure sores over your chest or stomach. Your face and your eyes swell. And this is all in an attempt to save your life.

      We are not treating COVID-19. There is no treatment. We are at best, modulating the immune response. We are litterally supporting organs. In an attempt to help you. We are trying to stop your body from attacking itself.

      Please understand that the above is not a scare tactic. This is the reality.

      Yes, not everyone who has been infected with COVID-19 has gone through the same experience. But this disease doesnt care about who you are, where you come from, your medical aid, your skin colour, your wealth, or any other attributes. If you have the ACE-II receptor on your respiratory epithelium then you are a target. And EVERY human is a target.

      No one can begin to fathom the stresses experience by those who have been out of work for the last 120 days. Nor can anyone better understand the difficulties each one will face.

      But these messages serve to inform you all of the reality of the situation, and the possible outcome of infection. So that every choice you make from here on out is an informed one. Every risk you take is a calculated one. And there are going to be choices made to protect your livelihood that supersedes the risk to your life and that is the unfortunate reality.

      In closing, no doctor, sister, healthcare worker or anyone working in a medical institution is there to judge. We will endeavor to help every single patient. There are no “told your so’s” or anything of the sought.

      We will continue to help. But we need you to help us, help your family. Because as it stands, we have no space to help, and this is only the beginning.

      From a concerned healthcare worker who is literally begging you to minimise your risk of infection.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so sorry that you are in this type of situation right now as many are. I am praying they get to the bottom of what is really causing this, where it came from, etc. I would hate to think that a “depopulation” plan some elites had were actually up into works. Sometimes people can be so wrong it’s scary. Praying that everyone stays safe & tries to protect themselves & others. Sad when some just don’t know enough to be careful. Sharing your post. God bless.

    Like

  5. Kavitha, your post is a reflection of what is happening in many places around the globe. Covid is in control, and people need to follow guidelines for hand washing, wearing a mask, and social distancing. The past couple of weeks in America has seen a resurgence in many regions.

    Liked by 1 person

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