These are some of the brave South Africans on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic

Dr. Sihle Sibiya is a peadiatrician at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital. Image: Supplied
Dr. Sihle Sibiya is a peadiatrician at Netcare Waterfall City Hospital. Image: Supplied

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in our country, many brave South Africans have continued to provide their services as essential workers, be it at the shops that remain operational, garages and other industries that have ensured that we have access to certain services.

Not least of these have been our medics, who have sometimes received little to no recognition.

On this Worker's Day, we are taking the time out to hear from some of them who have gone face-to-face with the threat of the virus on a daily basis.

These are some of their thoughts, and a salute to their service to the country.

Sihle Sibiya, Peadiatrician

"At the beginning of the pandemic I was afraid. I was afraid of being faced with thousands and thousands of sick people that I am unable to help.

I was afraid of having to decide who would be the best candidate for a ventilator, essentially choosing who will be given an opportunity to live and who would be left to die.

I was haunted by memories of the HIV/AIDS pandemic before ARVS were available, when funerals were a weekly norm. I was afraid not for myself, but for my patients.

Today...this fear has turned into hope. The lockdown has given us time to prepare, time to put procedures and protocols in place, time to slow down the spread of the virus so that we do not see the kind of scenes I was so afraid would happen.

I have seen how the vast number of South Africans have stayed at home and helped flattened the curve.

I am now hopeful that although this virus is here to stay and life will never be the same again, we are now better equipped to save as many lives as possible. 

Ultimately, that is the reason I became a doctor, to help save lives."

Masentle Sootho, Professional Nurse

“When we celebrated the new year (2020), little did we know that there would be some changes that would negatively impact the world at large.

The corona virus made us separate from our loved ones; we have to practice social distancing and stay home.

As front liners, it’s not easy having to leave our families and go to work since we have the fear as to “what if we bring the virus to our loved ones?"

Though the question lingers in our minds, we are still hopeful that we will fight this virus and eventually win. Let’s not forget to wash our hands with water and soap. Practice social distancing and please stay at home.”

Phuti Mphela, Paramedic

“What Covid-19 has done for me is to remind me of my ‘why?’. I have learnt that being an emergency worker hasn’t been about me and my salary; it’s about serving people with humanity and love.

I have learnt to appreciate that at some point, life is no longer about me, but about my country. Covid-19 has revealed how appreciated we are by the people we serve, our leaders in government, and our families as they’re always worried about our safety and their safety as well.

It is their messages of support and encouragement that make us strong every day during this crisis.

My message to everyone is: follow the precautionary measures our government has put in place, stay safe and wash your hands. We will defeat the virus.”

Spreading awareness and sometimes providing light comic relief through their personal social media platforms, our front liners have proven that just because we are under lockdown, it does not mean we cannot continue to celebrate ourselves and each other.

Nhlakanipho Mkhize, Medical Doctor

When Dr. Mkhize is not responding to medical questions from his Twitter followers, he shares some of the realities that doctors and nurses are faced with by re-iterating the simple message that being an essential service employee doesn’t make you invisible.

Akhona Yakobi, ENT surgeon

Dr. Akhona Yakobi has been a part of the #RunningWithTumiSole challenge since January, but because of the lockdown regulations, she has not been able to run on the roads.

Instead, the avid runner has taken to running laps around her house, averaging 10kms per session—proof that with creative solutions, one need not give up on their passions.

Philela Lufuta, Occupational Nurse

Philela Lufuta, based in Kings William Town at St. George’s Hospital is proof that a sense of humor goes a long way.

In the midst of her daily duties during the pandemic, Lufuta shares positive insight into her life as a frontliner, as well as encouraging stories of patient recoveries.

Carmen James, Holistic Doctor

Dr. Carmen James made headlines when she spoke out about her Covid-19 diagnosis and her journey to recovery.

On her YouTube channel, she shares her experiences, and how she took the precaution to self-isolate immediately after coming into contact with a Covid-19 infected patient.

Additional reporting by staff reporter.