Nurses face their fears as they battle the Covid-19 threat
You can barely recognise Noxolo Ngobeza. The 59-year-old, a primary healthcare nurse at Stretford Clinic in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, is covered in personal protective equipment.
"Every morning before I leave the house I get nervous. I take precautions because of my age. I fall within a group of people who are easily susceptible to catching coronavirus. I also suffer from asthma, so I get very nervous," Ngobeza said.
Today is International Nurses Day, and Ngobeza is one of thousands of nurses who have put their lives on the line to preserve the lives of others.
As of yesterday, Region G, which Orange Farm falls under, had 73 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Having worked as a nurse for 35 years, Ngobeza said Covid-19 was the scariest illness she has had to deal with.
Ngobeza and her colleagues have been forced to dispense medication from outside their offices. The clinic has erected a gazebo at the entrance.
"We can't work in our consultation rooms because we are trying to reduce the risk of infection. We would rather work outside because we can keep a safe social distance," she said.
She described their task as strenuous and challenging.
"It's a challenge working in these conditions because people don't keep a social distance when they queue in the line. It is scary because you don't want to catch this virus and take it home," Ngobeza said.
Ngobeza's sentiments were echoed by 32-year-old Mary Sithole, who works at Tshepo Themba Clinic in Soweto.
While Ngobeza deals with over 100 patients a day, Sithole only handles a handful - but their fears remain the same.
"I am constantly stressed because I live with a massive family - my mother, siblings, cousins and their children.
"I can't risk getting infected and transmitting it to them," Sithole said.
She said she has resorted to undressing in her car when she arrived at home from work to avoid carrying the virus into her household.
"I carry a black bag in my car so when I get home I can change, throw the clothes in the washing machine and take a shower before coming close to anyone else in the house. I need to. It's safer that way."