When 40-year-old Dumalisile September and his family contracted Covid-19 he focused on only one thing – surviving the virus so he could return to work to care for his family and serve the people of the Cape Winelands during the pandemic.
The Assistant Director of Human Resource Administration for Western Cape Government Health is the first nominated Coronavirus Hero in the Cape Winelands.
September can point out on a calendar the days he had major headaches, when he had sweated profusely and the days he had a cold fever as he fought the coronavirus.
“When you are a family person, you immediately think of your children,” he says. “I have a 4-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old. I am the head of the household. What if I died? One knows older people are more at risk, but one also hears of younger people passing away too.” September and his family live in Worcester.
As a person with hypertension he had a moderate risk of becoming severely ill from Covid-19. He was as well prepared as he could be: he continued to take his chronic medication diligently, made sure he practised good hand hygiene and boosted his immune system.
But then on 20 June September woke with a cough. The next day, very unlike himself, he slept until 10:00, sweating profusely. After changing into a fresh pair of pyjamas he slept until midday. When he felt chills later in the day, he knew something was not right. He was tested for Covid-19 and considered going into isolation at a facility, but as his family tested positive the next day they decided to isolate together at home. They locked the gates and informed their family and friends.
Being used to getting things done both at work and at home, it was difficult for September to ask those who offered to help to go to the shop on their behalf. He was also worried about work, as he wanted to serve the people of the Cape Winelands during the pandemic. Support staff play a key role in enabling and supporting front-line staff to do their work.
The family’s time of isolation is over, but life did not go back to the way it was before they got sick. “Having Covid-19 traumatised me,” September said. “It took time for me to absorb everything.” The family now mostly keeps to themselves, even though the children are back in school. They take even greater care to follow all the hygiene protocols and keep to the lockdown regulations.
His advice to others who get Covid-19 is simple: Accept it. “If you hide that you have it – it will kill you. Pray. We prayed each day. The only thing that will get you through is your support system. You know, you can have as many as 40 friends, but when it gets down to it there’s only a handful of people you can rely on.” He urges everyone to continue wearing clean cloth masks, to wash hands regularly, keep a safe distance from others and protect others by covering their cough or sneeze with a bent arm.
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