May 2020 2nd Edition

COVID-19 claims beloved community member

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

People can have the coronavirus disease and not feel sick, which means that unless they practise social distancing, they could spread the virus to others in their community. This was the case recently in the Eastern Cape.

The death of a King William’s Town resident who succumbed to the coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted the wider community.

Nosango Mfaka (61) died at Grey Hospital a day after testing positive for COVID-19.

Her nephew and family spokesperson, Eugene Mfaka, says that his aunt was a beloved member of her community. She was quick to help those in need and was active in her church. Eugene says that the news of Nosango’s illness shocked the community to the core. 

After the news that she was ill broke, there was a stream of community members coming to check on Nosango at her Mamatsha village home. After experiencing the pain of losing a loved one, the Mfaka family is pleading with South Africans to adhere to government regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In her church, she participated in whatever events were happening. When the church was organising something, you would never see her sitting idle, such was her character and passion for all things that concerned her community,” Eugene says of his late aunt.

Nosango contracted the virus when she visited a local doctor for an unrelated health matter. Although the doctor was showing no signs of being infected, days later he fell ill and tested positive for the virus.

According to Eugene, his aunt started feeling weak several days after the news of her doctor’s infection became known. He says she was extremely tired and complained of body pain. Eventually, Nosango was unable to eat and was taken to Grey Hospital where an urgent test was done and it was confirmed that she had the virus.“My aunt went to the hospital on Monday [20 April] and when they saw her symptoms, a rapid test was conducted. On confirmation that she had COVID-19, they admitted her to the intensive care unit. She passed away the following day.”

Final goodbye

In order to curb the spread of the virus, the Mfakas had to forego the traditions practised when a person dies. Eugene says his aunt’s burial was attended by fewer than 20 people, including staff from the funeral parlour.

The funeral took less than an hour and Nosango’s corpse was not taken to her home, as is the norm. A traditional funeral service – at which friends, community and church members say their goodbyes – did not happen.

“Her body went straight to the graveyard where only immediate family members and funeral parlour staff members were present,” he says..

The virus acted quickly in taking Nosango’s life because she had underlying illnesses that made her more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, according to Eugene.

Curbing the spread of COVID-19

He adds that before she passed, Nosango inadvertently infected her husband Mzimkhulu (80) and their two grandchildren, aged 13 and five, who lived in the same house. The grandchildren have been put in isolation at a government facility. In addition to this, Eugene says, there is a real possibility that the community members who had gone to visit her may have also been infected.

He says many of the village’s residents do not follow the regulations that government has put in place to curb the virus, explaining that people need to realise that COVID-19 is real and it kills. 

“The sad thing is that some people only exhibit symptoms at a very late stage. So we never know that someone has the virus till they are tested for it. Some of the people who have contracted COVID-19 might not even have symptoms because their immune system is that strong, but that does not mean it’s not there.

“People need to practise things such as social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands to curb the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, they only begin to take things seriously when they are affected. If people do not start listening, the number of deaths will continue to climb,” says Eugene.  

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