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'They way they die... it's horrible': Clinic owner tells of COVID-19 devastation

Olivia Pharo, who herself survived COVID-19 last year, said despite the issues she's witnessing, she would continue serving her community.

FILE: A nurse from Lancet Nectare hospital performs a COVID-19 coronavirus test in Richmond, Johannesburg, on 18 December 2020. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Olivia Pharo once worked at one of the busiest hospitals in Atlantis, Cape Town. She resigned in 2018, using her pension to open her own clinic. It is called Sister Pharo's Clinic.

She told Eyewitness News that in her 30-year career, she has never seen the scale of the devastation such as the one COVID-19 has caused.

Pharo also explained what nurses go through daily.

“They cannot help people out. Begging them for air, for oxygen, and then the patient dies - there is nothing that they can do. The patient is on a 100% oxygen or on free flow, and still you cannot save your patient. And the way they die without family, without anything, it’s horrible.”

READ: A story of hope: COVID-positive nurse rejoices as her premature baby survives

The second wave of coronavirus infections had a stronger impact on healthcare workers in the country than the first.

Long hours, caring for sick patients, dealing with grieving families while also thinking about their own mental health, has become all too familiar for nurses.

READ: ICU nurse begs public to take COVID-19 regulations seriously

Driven by a new variant of the virus, South Africa has seen record numbers of new COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the year.

FILE: Sister Olivia Pharo. Picture: Sister Pharo's Primary Health Care/Facebook.·

FILE: Sister Olivia Pharo. Picture: Sister Pharo's Primary Health Care/Facebook.·

The World Health Organization's emergency committee met two weeks early on Thursday to discuss the new coronavirus variants from South Africa and Britain that have rapidly spread to at least 50 countries and sparked widespread alarm.

READ: What we know about South Africa's new variant

The newly identified variants, which appear to be significantly more infectious than the strain that emerged in China in 2019, come as spiking virus numbers force many nations to enforce new lockdowns.

But Pharo, who herself survived COVID-19 last year, said despite the issues, she would continue serving her community. But she also urged members of the public to continue going for regular check-ups, saying there's been a notable decrease in visits due to fears of the coronavirus.

Pharo said before the COVID-19 pandemic, they saw hundreds of people coming for medical care and other treatments. This all changed last year.

“For us, and your general practitioners, go for check-ups because that are still [other] killer diseases.”

Pharo is urging community members to visit their doctors while adhering to safety protocols aimed at reducing the spread of virus.

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