‘Virus is real’

Covid-19 survivor John Witbooi.
Covid-19 survivor John Witbooi, 36, from Rocklands, speaks to the Plainsman about his last two weeks in isolation in a separate entrance, at home.

A Rocklands man, a recovered Covid-19 patient, has called on South Africans to obey lockdown regulations.

John Witbooi, 36, one of the five confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Mitchell’s Plain, spoke to the Plainsman yesterday, Tuesday March 31, a day after receiving a letter from the provincial government’s chief directorate of Metro Health Services, stating that he may return to work.

This comes after being in quarantine for two weeks.

“The virus is ‘real’ and it was hard knowing that if I did not stay in quarantine then I may infect other people,” Mr Witbooi said.

In his latest televised address to the nation on Monday March 30, President Cyril Ramaphosa said statistics for the country showed that three people have died of Covid-19 and that 1 326 people had tested positive.

At the time of going to print, there were 31 cases of full recovery.

Mr Witbooi, a bartender by profession, had possibly contracted the coronavirus at a wedding on Thursday March 12.

The bride had alerted the venue and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) called everyone to inform them about a Covid-19 positive person, who had attended the wedding.

“I was screened but did not have any symptoms,”Mr Witbooi said.

He said he worked at another function on Saturday March 14, where he came into contact with foreigners.

“I was in the kitchen and I felt hot. I had a glass of water and went outside to catch my breath,” he said.

Mr Witbooi said he had headaches and was not feeling well. “I usually get the flu every five years,” he said.

Following a call to the NICD, he tested positive on Thursday March 19 for Covid-19.

He said a long swab was shoved up his nose.

Mr Witbooi was asked to self-quarantine, “which he willingly did and he was monitored for the development of symptoms”.

He had severe headaches, which were so bad he would lose consciousness, fever and sinusitis – all of the symptoms of flu but worse.

Mr Witbooi said it was hard not being able to hug anyone on receipt of his diagnosis and that he had to be kept separate from his son, mother, sister and cousin, with whom he lives.

Mr Witbooi said he took flu medication and vitamins, which he took throughout while in isolation, at home in a separate entrance.

“I needed to go through this. I was the black sheep of the family. I had to do introspection. This was God’s plan for me. At the time it was what I needed to just keep going.”

He said all he could do was pray, listen to the gospel and watch television.

He said other family members had to drop off food, while the household also went into quarantine.

His mother, who had used his phone before he was tested, also went to hospital to be tested but she was given the all-clear.

“I just want people to be safe and hopefully we can get through this together stronger and build a better tomorrow for our kids.

“I hope everyone is going to be safe and that the deaths are not going to rise.

“As soon as this can blow over, the better. Then we can get on with our lives,” he said. “I did the possible. God did the impossible and that is why I am here – to tell my story,” he said.

Another Mitchell’s Plain Covid-19 positive patient is in quarantine until tomorrow Thursday April 2, when her isolation time ends.

Monique Johnstone, provincial Department of Health communications officer for the Klipfontein and Mitchells Plain Health Substructure, said they were working tirelessly to put systems in place to cater for the needs of communities while implementing physical distancing measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

Premier Alan Winde issued a statement on Sunday March 29, confirming that five people in Mitchell’s Plain have tested positive with the coronavirus.

“These people are being monitored and are isolating themselves at home,” he said.

Mr Winde said the national lockdown was in place to keep residents safe.

“If we do not all adhere to the rules of the lockdown, we risk spreading the virus further, infecting the most vulnerable and overloading our health systems.

“We appeal to people to ensure that if they are outside of their homes, either providing an essential service, going to buy groceries, going to the pharmacy or seeking medical attention, that they keep distance between themselves and other people.”

He also called on people to observe the hygiene standards which will help to keep them safe – regular hand washing with soap and water, sneezing or coughing into an arm or tissue and not making physical contact with anyone.

“By ensuring that we are all playing our part, we can help to stop the spread,” he said.