High covid risk person should ‘rethink’ plans for Cape coastal holidays

A doctor from Islamic Medical Association (IMA-PE-Branch) says it does not want to see holidaymakers ending up in hospitals far away from their homes, writes an Al-Qalam Reporter

A senior Port Elizabeth doctor has warned holidaymakers planning trips to the Eastern Cape and Western Cape to be extra cautious and not drop their guard – even urging people to postpone their vacation to the region’s alarming Covid hotspots if possible.

In an exclusive interview with Al Qalam, Dr Aadil Ahmed, of the Islamic Medical Association in Port Elizabeth said: “By no matter of exaggeration, this has dwarfed the first wave in terms of numbers and severity. The hospitals in both the private and public sector have been swamped with Covid cases. Doctors and health care workers have been fighting this Covid wave tirelessly.

“With the festive/holiday season upon us, people planning on holidaying at the coastal areas need to be wary of the high number of cases in the Eastern Cape and now Western Cape. Holidaymakers should be extra vigilant and not lay down their guard. In some instances, trips may need to be postponed due the high number of cases in these regions and high risk individuals should also rethink their planned holiday trips. Allah forbid, we don’t want holiday makers ending up in hospitals away from home, or taking the disease back to their homes.

“We pray that Allah protect us all from the pandemic and grant us a cure soon. May He grant ease to all those suffering. May HE assist the health workers in their efforts. May HE keep us focused, and with full reliance and faith in Him at all times”.

Muslim communities in the region have also not been spared.

“No community has been spared during this second wave with the Muslim community also suffering numerous cases and fatalities. We pray that Allah grants complete cure to those afflicted and ease and comfort to the families of the deceased.”

The Eastern Cape and in particular Port Elizabeth has made up the bulk of the case numbers as well as fatalities in the past few weeks, said Dr Ahmed, who works as a senior radiologist at a private hospital in Port Elizabeth.

“The main Covid hospital of the Eastern Cape , Livingston Hospital, has been filled with patients lying on stretchers and in corridors. A bunker that was built at the time of the 2010 World Cup with 69 high flow oxygen beds has started to be utilized for the first time, as well as the custom built field hospital. Volunteer doctors from all over the country have come to assist in both the private and public sector as staffing issues are the main limiting factor.”

Dr Ahmed told Al Qalam that all age groups have been affected.

“The impression is that the younger age groups (15-25yrs) have been socializing more, involved in more risky activities, thus contributing to the rapid spread. This group tends not to get as ill, but takes the disease home to the elderly and those with co-morbidities. Fatalities also have not been confined to the elderly. There have been large numbers of middle aged and ‘younger’ deaths.”

Educational

Asked what role, the Islamic Medical Association (PE-Branch) was playing to help stem the tide of Covid infections, Dr Ahmed said at the onset of the first wave, the volunteer Muslim medical group had sprung into action by going on a full-scale educational drive at Masaajid, providing advice over community radio and on social media. The IMA PE is providing a Whatsapp medical advice service for Covid-related issues for the entire Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.

He said other projects included community mask production and distribution projects to those in need, providing PPE and other essentials to public hospitals.

“The Oxygen concentrator project is the most active currently and vital to alleviating the stresses on the limited hospital beds, affording certain patients home treatment and assisting ill patients in need. We have purchased oxygen concentrators and have had many loaned to us from Durban and Johannesburg. These oxygen concentrators have also allowed a few terminal patients the opportunity to leave this world surrounded by family in their homes.”

“Last week the president announced some restrictions that will hopefully contribute to curtailing the rapid spread, but ultimately it is our responsibility to reign in this wave. Basic precautions that we seem to have forgotten, need to be revisited: mask wearing in public places, social distancing, avoiding gatherings, are three simple practices that require adherence.”

“People are encouraged to attend the Masaajid but must observe these precautions (the IMA has issued guidelines in this regard), so that our Masaajid do not contribute to further spread.”

“We hope the restrictions on alcohol sales will have an impact as well, leading to less irresponsible behavior and also trauma that burdens our health system, in this time of need,” Dr Ahmed added.

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