Three members of a single Rylands family are spending Ramadaan self-isolating in a cordoned-off part of their home after testing positive for Covid-19.
The couple and their seven-year-old son are living in a room and sharing a bathroom to stay separate from the rest of the family.
The family spoke to the Athlone News on condition of anonymity, as they say they have found there is a stigma attached to those who test positive for this virus.
Both husband and wife are essential workers, and just before lockdown, they asked the grandmother to move in with them, to help care for the children. The grandmother and the couple’s other two children have tested negative for Covid-19.
“Being in quarantine is emotionally draining for us on the inside of the room and traumatic for those outside of the room, especially when you have little ones like we do. They miss being held and kissed,” the woman said.
“My nine-year-old is fasting, and she cries every morning at breakfast and every evening when breaking her fast at night. All because we are in quarantine and don’t have us with her like we were in previous years.
“I have asked my family and friends to do regular check-ins with her and my mother-in-law to see how they are doing. This has helped a bit.”
Her husband was infected first. He started feeling sluggish on Thursday April 23 and had himself tested on the same day.
“The body aches are the worst,” he said. “My fever fluctuated, and I developed a mild cough. The Friday my wife was tested, and she also tested positive.”
My wife and son have a history of being asthmatic, and initially they did not show any symptoms.”
The couple are using preventative medication, especially with their son. The seven-year-old also developed a fever, while his mother had backache and a dry cough. As soon as he developed a fever, his mother gave him paracetamol every four-to-six hours, and by Tuesday April 28, his fever subsided.
“With this virus, your days feel fine, but by 5pm, the body aches and nausea start,” the woman said. “The lack of appetite is also overwhelming. I have had night sweats two nights in a row. What I have learnt, is that this virus does not want you to lay on your back. I have also found that deep breathing helps – holding your breath for a few seconds and then slowly exhaling. Moving around also helps, as well as steaming, but you must do the steaming with the hot water alone. Do not add any eucalyptus, or anything menthol.”
Fatima Peters, deputy director for health programmes at the Western Cape Health Department, manages community screenings and testing and Covid-19 contact tracing. She said it was important for people not to go to work or leave their homes if they felt sick.
Ms Peters said people had been coming out in the thousands to have themselves screened and tested, but there was still a stigma attached to Covid-19.
“We have community health workers who go door-to-door, and they also explain everything, and we have found the stigma is becoming a problem. There has been a lot of victimisation against those who have tested positive. This is the reason why people who have tested positive do not want to disclose it, because of the stigma.
“Yes, this is a dreaded disease that can spread quickly and can be asymptomatic. The things we need to do to protect ourselves are a lot to get used to. I often have to remind myself that distance is crucial, for example. We must also remember to wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, and to disinfect, among others. We must all have a bit of tolerance. Now is not the time to give up,” Ms Peters said.
In a statement, the Western Cape Health Department said those who could not self-isolate at home would be referred to facilities where they could get temporary care away from home and where transport, food, laundry and waste disposal would be provided.
“We understand that separation from families is a difficult experience, but it is necessary to #StopTheSpread to loved ones and community,” the statement said.
According to the department, there are several things those who test positive need to do:
– Stay at home in a different room (and bathroom if possible).
– Do not leave the house.
– Do not have visitors.
– Use different cutlery and crockery than the rest of the household.
– Separate laundry and special rubbish disposal.
– As the entire household might have to quarantine, try to get outside assistance for the household, such as having food delivered.
“An important feature of isolation and quarantine is that health teams will follow up and check with you to monitor your wellbeing. Please make sure you are contactable and answer their questions truthfully. It is important to alert these teams to any severe symptoms. If needed, you will be referred for further medical assistance,” the statement said.
“We understand that this is a very stressful time for those who have to isolate. We are doing whatever we can to help make this as easy as possible for you. We want to remind our residents to be kind and compassionate during this time. Like anyone who falls ill, people who are infected with Covid-19 deserve our love and care.
“We must also remember that most people fully recover from Covid-19, and they should be welcomed back into our communities when they return.”