Rural hero - surviving Covid-19 to serve the people of the cape winelands
When the 40-year-old Mr Dumalisile September and his family contracted COVID-19, he focused on only one thing – surviving the virus so that he can return to work to take care of his family and serve the people of the Cape Winelands during the pandemic. Dumalisile, the Assistant Director of Human Resource Administration for Western Cape Government Health, is the first nominated Coronavirus Hero in the Cape Winelands.
Dumalisile can take the calendar and point out the days he had major headaches, the days he sweated profusely and the days he had cold fever as he fought the Coronavirus.
“When you are a family person, you immediately think of your children. I have a four-year-old, a ten-year-old and a 15-year-old. I am the head of the household. What if I died? You know that older people are more at risk, but you do hear of younger people who pass away too,” says Dumalisile. He and his family live in Worcester.
As a person with hypertension, Dumalisile had a moderate risk of getting severely sick from COVID-19. He was as well prepared as he could be: he continued to diligently take his chronic medication, made sure he practiced good hand hygiene and boosted his immune system. But then on 20 June he woke up with a cough. The next day, very unlike himself, he slept until 10:00 while sweating profusely. After changing into a fresh pair of pyjamas, he slept until midday. When he felt chills later on in the day, he knew something was not right. He was tested for COVID-19 and considered going into isolation at a facility, but as his family tested positive the next day, they decided to isolate together at home. They locked the gates and informed their family and friends.
Being used to getting things done both at work and at home, it was difficult for him to ask those who offered to help, to go to the shop on their behalf. He was also worried about work, as he wanted to be at work to serve the people of the Cape Winelands during the pandemic. Support staff play a key role in enabling and supporting frontline staff to do their work.
The family’s time of isolation is over, but life did not go back to as it was before they got sick. “Having COVID-19 traumatised me. It took time for me to absorb everything.” The family now mostly keep to themselves, even though the children are back in school. They take even greater care to follow all the hygiene protocols and keep to the lockdown regulations.
Dumalisile’s advice to others who gets COVID-19, is simple: Accept it. “If you hide that you have it – that will kill you. Pray. We prayed each day. The only thing that will get you through is your support system. You know, you can have like 40 friends, but when it gets down to it, there are only a handful of people who you can rely on.” He urges everyone to continue wearing clean cloth masks, to wash hands regularly, to keep a safe distance from others and to protect others by covering your cough or sneeze with a bent arm.
People who are at high risk of getting very ill if they get COVID-19 are persons 55 years and older, as well as adults with diabetes. Adults who have a moderate risk of severe COVID-19 are those with hypertension, adults who are being treated for TB or who were treated for TB previously, people with HIV, kidney disease or chronic lung diseases (chronic bronchitis, asthma and emphysema).
People with high or moderate risk of being severely ill when they get COVID-19 must be vigilant and immediately phone their healthcare provider or the hotline (080 928 4102) if they develop a cough, sore throat or notice a loss of taste and smell. Urgent medical help is needed if you:
- have trouble breathing;
- feel confused;
- struggle to wake up;
- have chest pain or pressure on your chest;
- suddenly experience weakness in an arm, leg or one side of your face; or
- suddenly experience a loss of speech or vision.