In South Africa, we are now through our second wave of COVID with the variant strain. A third wave is predicted. The first 85,000 doses of single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccines are being administered now. South Africa expects to acquire doses for around 10% of the population – 12 million vaccine doses from April through to June.
Including excess mortality figures, the South African per capita Coronavirus death toll since May 2020 has been the world’s highest as estimated by the South African Medical Research Council if excess non-hospital deaths are included. On January 28, 2021 the Washington Post reported that Phumla Mnyanda, who runs a 260-bed hospital in Eastern Cape’s capital, Bhisho, said social media posts had spread misinformation on ways to avoid hospitals where people were dying, keeping an even greater number of people from coming in when they first felt symptoms. But as patients neared death, families would rush them to the hospital only to find that little could be done to save their relatives. “They were coming too late, and by then, their oxygen levels are very low, and you saw it dropping and dropping, and there is nothing we could do,” she said in a telephone interview. “People are so scared because there are so many that have died.”
Through churches, our health builder network and other organizations, we are distributing pulse oximeters and educating people on prevention and what to do if sick with coronavirus. We are showing our “Understanding COVID-19” video animations in English and Zulu and distributing DVDs and YouTube links. Pulse oximeters can help people with symptoms of COVID-19 infection and direct them to medical care at the appropriate time. While these are readily available in the United States, they are less commonly used in South Africa and knowledge on their proper use is low. The accuracy of these cheaper units has been found to be acceptable in the ranges at which we are concerned with our population of at-home COVID sufferers.
Rick and Anita Gutierrez