The public have the power to stop COVID-19 deaths, not us: Tygerberg doctor

Healthcare workers at the Tygerberg hospital, where over 11,000 COVID-19 patients have been treated since March 2020, were anxious about what lay ahead if lockdown regulations were relaxed.

A Tree of Life corner has been set up at Tygerberg Hospital's COVID-19 ICU ward where healthcare workers can, as part their journey dealing with the trauma and anxiety, honour coronavirus patients who’ve passed away. Picture: Kevin Brandt/EWN

CAPE TOWN – A Tygerberg intensive care unit (ICU) specialist said that ordinary members of the public were the real frontliners in the fight against COVID-19 and not the healthcare workers.

The Cape Town hospital has treated more than 11,000 patients since the pandemic hit South Africa last year.

Like their peers across the world, doctors had to be innovative - quickly – as they gained scientific knowledge about the virus.

Medical staff moved up and down the hallway of Tygerberg hospital's A5 COVID-19 ICU, reporting back to the on-call senior physician on the condition of severely ill patients.

This was where 50-year-old Nceba Simayile spent nearly two months fighting the debilitating effects of a coronavirus infection.

“I'm grateful for that fact that I'm given a chance again to be alive and knowing well that others who thought that they will survive, but they couldn't survive."

Healthcare workers at the hospital were anxious about what lay ahead if lockdown regulations were relaxed.

Operational head of the hospital's COVID-19 ICU, Dr Usha Lalla, said that the public must play their part in fighting the virus.

“The doctors, the hospitals, the nurses, the healthcare workers...we are not the frontline people against this disease...it's the public. It's the public that has the power to stop these deaths, the public has the power, not us."

Over 200 COVID-19 patients were transferred to Tygerberg’s ICU since the first patient was admitted on 25 March last year.

To help staff deal with the trauma, a tree of life was painted at the entrance of the ward to signify the connection between heaven and earth even after people have died.

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