'We should not expose our elderly mothers and fathers to the virus': Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa says as difficult as it may be, we must not visit elderly parents and grandparents and expose them to possible infection with coronavirus.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says as difficult as it may be, we must not visit elderly parents and grandparents and expose them to possible infection with coronavirus.
Image: Supplied

President Cyril Ramaphosa has dedicated his weekly newsletter to South Africans who  are vulnerable to Covid-19.

Ramaphosa urged South Africans on Monday to keep away from their elderly loved ones to save their lives.

This comes as the country's death toll is just under 3,200.

For those fortunate enough to have an elderly parent or grandparent still alive, not being able to spend time with them has been one of the most difficult parts of the lockdown,” he wrote. For millions of senior citizens, social activities like meeting friends and family and attending religious services and stokvel and burial society meetings are the mainstay of their lives.

Because of social distancing regulations, most of these activities have been curtailed, potentially leaving them feeling socially isolated and lonely. And leaving their loved ones anxious for their wellbeing.

He said, however, keeping distance from parents and grandparents at this time could well save their lives.

Ramaphosa said data released by the department of health showed that people with underlying conditions were more vulnerable to developing severe complications and dying from Covid-19.

Coronavirus can infect anyone, but older people are among those at highest risk of getting severely ill and possibly dying. Sadly, there have been a number of coronavirus outbreaks at old age homes and care centres, resulting in a number of deaths,” he wrote.

According to new research published by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, a third of patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 had at least one comorbidity.

This is a significant concern in a country such as ours that also has high prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis, the leading cause of natural deaths in South Africa last year, he wrote.

He said in a number of provinces, including Gauteng and Western Cape, testing was now being offered to people with comorbidities such as diabetes, whether they showed  coronavirus symptoms or not.

This smart approach to screening and testing is part of our effort to limit infections among those most vulnerable. We will continue to be led by scientific evidence and adapt our strategies where necessary.

As part of the national effort to contain coronavirus, protecting the general population from becoming infected must be matched by efforts to protect people who are at greater risk, he said

Ramaphosa said the department of social development had also set dietary standards on the food provided to communities during lockdown to ensure it had nutritional value.

Until we have overcome this pandemic, we all have to play it safe, for ourselves and those around us. Difficult though it may be, we should not expose our elderly mothers and fathers to the virus through social visits. Let us keep in touch with them by phone or video messaging.

If they live with us, let us ensure we observe proper hygiene at all times by washing and sanitising our hands. Frequently touched surfaces, including equipment used by our parents and grandparents like walkers and canes, should be frequently cleaned, said Ramaphosa.

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