I didn’t think I will get the virus” – young people share their Covid-19 journey
Thinking that COVID-19 only affects the elderly became a huge eye-opener for two young adults, Leah Jacobs (21) from Grassy Park and Keegen Carollus (22) from Belhar.
“I work in the retail sector in Cape Town where I engage customers daily and travel to and from work with public transport and never really understood the seriousness of this virus,” says Leah Jacobs, who suffers from asthma and attends the Grassy Park Community Day Centre (CDC) for healthcare services when needed. Leah started developing a sore throat and immediately alerted her manager. She was asked to stay at home and have herself tested for COVID-19.
“I have sinus complications and my chest at times becomes tight because of my asthma, but I immediately take my pump when it happens,” says Leah concerned.
Leah immediately contacted Grassy Park CDC and the nurse told her to come for screening and a test because her existing health condition put her at risk. She was asked to quarantine at home but could not because she shares a room with her siblings. Arrangements were made for her to use the Department’s quarantine facility in Durbanville and she was transported the next day by the Red Dot taxi service - the dedicated transportation for persons to quarantine facilities.
“I was at ease using the service and felt comfortable. Staff explained the quarantine rules and I couldn’t leave my room. They took my temperature each day, I had healthy and delicious meals and a room all to myself with a big-screen television, it was so relaxing and chilled,” says Leah happily.
Leah’s results were negative and although she enjoyed her stay at the facility, she was happy that she did not have COVID-19. “You always hear from family and friends that people are dying of this virus and I always thought it is only older people. I never realised that young people can also be infected or even die from Coronavirus,” says Leah.
“Now I always sanitise, wear my mask and I am more aware to keep a distance from others and stay indoors until this virus is gone so I can visit my friends again,” says Leah.
Keegen Carollus (22) is a Ward 12 Youth Leader in Belhar and believed he contracted the virus from a colleague who tested positive for COVID-19. They share the same workspace and transport to work daily.
“At first I was skeptical of COVID-19. I am young, healthy and I didn’t think that this virus will affect me because it was mostly elderly people getting sick,” says Keegen.
However, COVID-19 soon became a reality for Keegen when he started developing COVID-19 symptoms including a cough, fever for three days, headache and a sore throat and was advised to quarantine as he had COVID-19 symptoms.
“I immediately became concerned because I live with my elderly parents who have chronic illnesses and I didn’t want to infect them,” says Keegen. He immediately contacted the Provincial Hotline for assistance to quarantine safely. Keegen decided to protect his parents by using a quarantine facility. As with Leah, the Red Dot taxi collected him from home and to took him to the quarantine facility.
“The friendly staff checked-up on me daily and made sure, I received three healthy meals. I watched DSTV, had aircon and slept well,” recalls Keegen happily.
“I became emotional after a few days because I was missing home, but I received quite a few calls from friends and family and felt loved,” says Keegen.
While Keegen was in quarantine, his elderly parents had themselves tested for COVID-19 and the results were negative. “I was so happy to hear that my parents never had the virus because it would have crushed me if they contracted it because of me,” he says emotionally.
“This was a wake-up call for me. The Coronavirus can infect anyone and any age no matter your health status. I am young and healthy and never thought I can get COVID-19. I am grateful that I recovered fully in only 10 days. Now I wash my hands every 20 minutes and after I touch things, I am also more aware to wear my mask at all times and to social distance,” says Keegen confidently.
After their COVID-19 scare, both Keegen and Leah are taking the 5 Golden Rules of Hygiene more seriously and doing their bit to educate young people on the seriousness of this virus.
“This virus is not a joke, young people must wear their mask properly wherever they go to do their part and stop the spread of COVID-19. We can all socialise again one day and see our friends once this virus is gone,” says Keegen.