A Mitchell’s Plain community worker who tested positive for Covid-19, is being treated in hospital after having threatened on social media to embark on a hunger strike if he wasn’t admitted to a health facility.
On Saturday January 23, Michael Jacobs, the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association deputy chairman and Colorado Park resident, was taken by ambulance to Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre. He, however, was told to return home to isolate, without being examined, he said.
The previous day, Friday January 22, Mr Jacobs had tested positive for Covid-19 at home because he was too weak to leave his bed.
He had called Ward 75 councillor Joan Woodman several times for her intervention, to be tested at home and for speedy service from the ambulance on Saturday evening.
His niece Melanie Erasmus, with whom he lives, her parents and her daughter, said Mr Jacobs had gone to the day hospital on Sunday January 17 where he was treated for an ear infection.
“He was given antibiotics and pain tablets but he was not responding to the medication,” she said.
Her father, Norman Fortuin’s positive Covid-19 results and subsequent hospitalisation on Tuesday January 19, had prompted Mr Jacobs to be tested for Covid-19, she said.
Ms Erasmus said they had called for an ambulance because her uncle was very frail, hardly eating or drinking.
She went with him to the CHC.
“I went in. They kept him in the ambulance. The paramedic told the doctor that his heart rate and oxygen levels were fine.
“The doctor said there were not enough beds and that he is not eating at home. So, no one was going to bother feeding him and that he could lie in his own filth,” she said.
At home, she said, she had overheard her uncle telling someone on the phone: “If i don’t get to hospital then I am going to die at home.”
On Sunday January 24 at 4.44am Mr Jacobs posted on Facebook: “I tested positive for Covid-19 and just dumped at Mitchell’s Plain CHC without being helped and sent home again (sic)”.
About six hours later, at 10.18am, he pledged to embark on a hunger strike. And in a follow-up post he wrote: “Less well wishes more actions save lives (sic).”
After 6pm he was rushed to Mitchell’s Plain District hospital.
A close friend, who works at the hospital informs his family about his well-being.
She told the Plainsman that Mr Jacobs is responding well to treatment but was very weak.
“He needs lots of rest,” she said.
Norman Jantjes, chairman of Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association, said the hospital were still busy conducting blood tests and that Mr Jacobs was still a bit weak.
“It’s a pity that he had to first put up a fight before getting the appropriate treatment,” he said.
They have been advised that Mr Jacobs needs rest and that his phone is off limits.
“Mura wishes him a speedy and complete recovery so that he can return to his role as the people’s advocate,” Mr Jantjes said.
Colin Arendse, an activist and former police reservist, commented on the hunger strike Facebook post with a letter from Premier Alan Winde, stating that he had asked the health department to respond.
Mr Winde’s spokeswoman Bianca Capazorio said the complaint had been referred to both Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo and head of the Western Cape Health Department Dr Keith Cloete, who both indicated that the matter was receiving attention.
“Premier Winde himself tried to call Mr Jacobs for further information but the call was not answered,” she said.
According to the spokeswoman for health department’s Klipfontein / Mitchell’s Plain Substructure, Monique Johnstone, the Mitchell’s Plain CHC has no record of Mr Jacobs being tested or assisted at the facility at the weekend.
“The facility’s electronic systems show his last visit was on January 17, with non-Covid-19 related symptoms,” she said.
“The CHC’s records show that he tested at the Westridge City clinic on January 22.”
Ms Johnstone confirmed that Mr Jacobs arrived at the district hospital at 6pm on Sunday January 24.
“The hospital retested Mr Jacobs and admitted him to the Covid-19 ward for further care,” she said.
Two hours later residents were in the hospital’s parking lot praying for Mr Jacob’s speedy recovery.