GEORGE NEWS - Former Georgian, Cameron Anderson tested positive for Covid-19 and is currently in self-isolation at Oubaai Estate (outside George) where he is visiting his family.
He answered some questions from George Herald journalist, Alida de Beer:
You have been very forthcoming and open about having Covid-19, why is that?
I want to use this as an opportunity to address the unnecessary hysteria. I feel like there is a lot of misinformation surrounding the virus and hopefully I can help clarify some of the issues and ultimately slow down the spread of the virus.
I want to show that there is no shame in having the virus if you follow the right procedures and do everything in your power not to spread it. As soon as I started showing symptoms I went into immediate self-isolation and took all the necessary precautions.
The most dangerous part of Covid-19 is that most of the time it isn’t the same as the image you see in the news of someone in hospital with tubes coming out of them, but if you spread it to someone vulnerable, it very well can be.
When were you tested and when did you get your results? When did you start with self-isolation?
I started self-isolation on Sunday 15 March. I was tested on Monday the 16th and received the results on Thursday 19 March.
Did you have tests done out of your own will because you showed symptoms or were you screened at the airport and told to be tested?
This is something I would like to emphasize. The reason I have been tested is not that my symptoms were ever severe but rather that the South African government requires it if you show symptoms and have travelled from a high-risk area like the UK. So while I might be one of the first confirmed cases in George, there is sure to be a much larger number of people going undiagnosed. This is said not to encourage testing but rather to encourage social distancing and self-isolation which is our only defence against spreading the virus. The problem with mass testing is that if an individual’s test results are negative, they feel that social distancing is no longer necessary and risk contracting the virus soon after and spreading it unknowingly. Testing is only effective when used in the circumstances outlined by the South African Health Department.
You were abroad – in which country/ies? When did you arrive home?
Yes, I have been living in London for the last year, and I came back for a holiday with my family. I arrived on 13 March and it is uncertain when I will be returning to the UK.
Were you screened at the airport when you arrived in South Africa - you must have been positive already? Was the airline you travelled with informed by the health authorities?
Yes, I was screened at the airport, but I wasn’t showing symptoms at that time. The NICD has informed the airline I was on.
What symptoms did/do you have? How are you feeling?
My symptoms were very mild. It started with sinusitis and a headache with a mild temperature. The problem is I seemed to get better before I got worse again, this is why prolonged social distancing and self-isolation is so important because while you may not feel ill you are still contagious. My symptoms worsened and I developed a pain around my eyes and a general fatigue. My symptoms never left me bedridden or in terrible discomfort.
How long must you self-isolate after being diagnosed?
As my case has been mild, I can de-isolate 14 days after my initial symptoms. An asymptomatic patient can de-isolate 14 days after testing positive and a patient with severe symptoms can de-isolate 14 days after clinical stability.
Have all the people you have been in contact with been traced?
Yes, when I contacted my local doctor, she took down the details of the people I have been in close contact with and sent it to the NICD. I also personally contacted everyone that I have been in close contact with to ensure that they isolate themselves and monitor their symptoms. We are also in daily contact with the District Tracing Team.
How old are you?
I am 23 years old and I grew up in George. I recently moved to London to pursue a career in sales and I come back home as often as possible to spend time with my family.
Are you staying with your family? If so, how are you ensuring that other family members are safe?
I am staying with my family. Unfortunately, I have been in close contact with them since I arrived so the chances of them having Covid-19 is very high. We have notified the District Tracing Team and are in daily communication. As a family we relay our symptoms back to them and they advise what is best to do. There is no current treatment or vaccine for the virus yet, so we treat each symptom and try and stay as healthy as possible.
Have they been tested too?
No, they have not been tested yet. At the present time it will make no difference, they are all at very high risk of having the virus and have to self-isolate for 14 days regardless. They will be tested when they become symptomatic. The reason for this is that testing too early can lead to a false negative.
How are you handling self-isolation - how do you keep busy?
Self-isolation is tough on everyone, but you end up getting quite creative in keeping yourself entertained.
It can be taxing on your mental state, but the key is to keep a healthy routine. I try and wake up at a reasonable hour and spend some time in the garden to get some sun. I speak to a lot of people on the phone throughout the day, people checking in and asking if they can help. Everyday people have been dropping off food and groceries in our driveway and we can’t wait to return the favour when we are healthy again.
Any message you want to give to South Africans out there?
I hope this does not cause panic, it is merely the natural progression that this virus is set to take and by adhering to the necessary precautions of social distancing and self-isolation we are able to deal with it effectively.
While my symptoms were mild, for someone else they could be fatal. Please don’t let your pride be the reason someone loses a loved one. If we approach this virus with the mentality of a collective as opposed to that of an individual, we are well equipped to manage the adverse effects of this virus. Social distancing and self-isolation are aimed at protecting those who are unable to protect themselves.
Another positive Covid-19 case was also confirmed this morning by Oubaai Hotel Manager Brian Ng-Yuk-Shing. The man is a German tourist who booked in on Tuesday. “When staff saw him coughing in the corridor they asked if he was okay. He said he felt fine but had a bit of a cough. We immediately isolated him in his room and organised for a Covid-19 test through Mediclinic. The results were received yesterday afternoon. Our guest remains in isolation and we drop his food and drink in takeaway containers off at his door.”
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