This is what’s happening in SA hospitals now

June 24, 2020
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In a world of fake news, it’s difficult to know what to believe and when it comes to COVID news, it seems surreal anyway so we’ve made a few calls and done some research of our own to find out what the status quo is in our hospitals right now, and this is what we found.

Misinformation has led to the belief that if you test positive for coronavirus you need to go to hospital immediately, and this has contributed to our hospitals and ambulance services being inundated with ‘false alarms’. 

According to our Red Alert Emergency Medical Services, the situation in East London is that the private hospitals are full to overflowing. The emergency rooms are full of patients who may not be released until their test results are confirmed. This creates a back-up at emergency rooms which leads to delays of anywhere between 1 to 8 hours for each ambulance. Yesterday, 23 June 2020, in East London, South Africa, there were no ambulances available for emergencies for a considerable period of time.

There remains a perception that it is not safe to go to a state hospital but at present, Frere Hospital in East London still has plenty of capacity available to take on some of the load. State hospitals have created Corona sections for people who have tested positive or who need to be tested. All other trauma patients are received through the ‘normal’ entrances, allowing for a much better flow given the exponential increase in the number of cases. 

Panic has set in and for many people who have tested positive, the battle is psychosomatic – they have a panic attack and mistake the shortness of breath for advanced symptoms of COVID. What you need to know is that many people are asymptomatic and others display mild symptoms and will recover with self-medication and isolation. Only people who have tested positive and who are having difficulty breathing, need to be admitted to hospital. Mild flu symptoms do not qualify as severe enough to warrant admission to hospital.

Our nurses and doctors are under immense strain and each of us needs to take personal responsibility for our health to reduce the load on the system. A Port Elizabeth doctor took to social media this week telling the public that COVID is here. She said that her colleagues were ill and that the beds are full. Our healthcare workers are taking strain under the pressure and we are faced with a shortage of isolation rooms in the private healthcare sector.

Here’s everything you need to know if you are concerned that you or someone you know might have coronavirus:

Get a test if you have symptoms

If you have symptoms, get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.

The test needs to be done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

Self-isolate if:

  • you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • you’re waiting for a coronavirus test result
  • you’ve tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus
  • you live with someone who has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive

How to self isolate:

  • do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can
  • do not go on public transport or use taxis
  • do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
  • do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
  • do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one.

How to treat coronavirus symptoms at home

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19), but you can often ease the symptoms at home until you recover.

Treating a high temperature

If you have a high temperature, it can help to:

  • get lots of rest
  • drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable

Treating a cough

If you have a cough, it’s best to avoid lying on your back. Lie on your side or sit upright instead.

To help ease a cough, try having a teaspoon of honey. But do not give honey to babies under 12 months.

If this does not help, you could contact a pharmacist for advice about cough treatments.

Information:Do not go to a pharmacy in person. If you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms, you must all stay at home.

Try calling or contacting the pharmacy online instead.

Things to try if you’re feeling breathless

If you’re feeling breathless, it can help to keep your room cool.

Try turning the heating down or opening a window. Do not use a fan as it may spread the virus.

You could also try:

  • breathing slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth, with your lips together like you’re gently blowing out a candle
  • sitting upright in a chair
  • relaxing your shoulders, so you’re not hunched
  • leaning forward slightly – support yourself by putting your hands on your knees or on something stable like a chair

Try not to panic if you’re feeling breathless. This can make it worse.

Important

Feeling breathless can be a sign of a more serious coronavirus infection.

There have been a number of encouraging discoveries for the effective treatment of coronavirus. The medical fraternity is connected across the globe and sharing all the latest findings with one another. Our healthcare professionals remain some of the most well qualified in the world so we are in good hands as long as we take the necessary precautions and continue to work toward limiting our risk. People are understandably tired of lockdown and want to get on with their lives but now is the time to go back to basics and practice strict prevention measures at home and at work. 

*Credit to NHS UK for parts of this article

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