A young South African woman who has recovered from the coronavirus (COVID-19) says citizens of all ages and races need to take the deadly disease seriously and obey the regulations set by government.
Ncebakazi Willie (27), from the rural village of Xhora in the Eastern Cape, got the virus when she was working on a cruise ship in March.
“The cruise ship had stopped in Italy, where the virus was starting to get very serious. There were a lot of people dying there.”
When Willie returned to South Africa, she decided that she should get tested at her local hospital.
“I knew that there was a risk that I might have contracted the virus but I could not self-isolate because I live with a family of 10 people. So I went to the hospital and had a test done.”
Her test was positive.
“I was shocked because I did not have a single symptom. I felt completely normal. This is what makes the virus dangerous, the fact that people can be spreading it without even knowing they have it.”
Willie says she hears a lot of South Africans saying that the virus will not affect them.
“This is not true. This virus can infect anyone, no matter if you are young or old, white or black. I urge everyone to take it seriously. It is selfish to think that you cannot get it. If you think like that and don’t take the necessary measures to protect yourself, then you will get the virus and spread it to other people.”
Willie says that in Italy, she saw first-hand how badly the virus can affect a country when people do not follow health guidelines.
“People in Italy did not take the lockdown seriously. Thousands of people have died and the healthcare system is struggling. I am worried now that the virus is in South Africa because a lot of people are also not obeying the regulations. So the same thing could happen here.”
Willie was fortunate to recover from the virus after 14 days of quarantine in hospital.
“When I got my negative results back, I was running around the room and shouting with joy. I feel blessed that I managed to get through it. Other people have not been so lucky,” Willie says.
*If you are showing any symptoms, such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, contact the COVID-19 hotline on 0800 029 999 or WhatsApp the word ‘Hi’ to 0600 123 456.