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Youth can help defend SA from the coronavirus

Written by Dale Hes

Dr Nokukhanya Khanyile (28) works in the paediatric department at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg. As a young doctor, she knows all about the potential dangers of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

She says her hospital is one of the many public hospitals in Gauteng that have adapted to the arrival of the virus.

“Our entire approach to patients with respiratory illnesses has changed. Our wards have now been set up according to low-risk and high-risk patients. We also have to carry our own hand sanitiser and wear a surgical mask for the entire workday,” says Dr Khanyile. Dr Nokukhanya Khanyile

“As a result of the national lockdown, I was better able to help ill patients who needed assistance as hospitals were less busy with non-urgent or trauma-related complaints. I was able to spend more time understanding patient conditions and giving appropriate feedback,” she explains.

Gauteng was originally the country’s main COVID-19 hotspot, but the interventions put in place by government have kept the number of cases relatively low. This has included training healthcare workers in best practices to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as dealing with COVID-19 cases. 

“The most impressive thing has been the constant communication with employees, especially through social media pages,” she says.

As she continues her essential work in healthcare, Dr Khanyile encourages the youth to be at the frontlines of fighting COVID-19 by following good hygiene practices and practising social distancing.

“The most important thing to remember is that you need not panic; you are the frontline of defence in this pandemic. If you do all of the right things to keep safe, then medical professionals or essential workers have less of a chance of being exposed to the virus and, because we are the last line of defence, we have a better chance of minimising the spread.”

She says that the youth have a responsibility to learn from their elders and mentors, in order to create a better South Africa for the future.

“As young people, we are the ones who will be carrying the baton into the future. It is up to us to learn as much as we can now from our leaders in order to make wise decisions when it is our time to make laws, when we eventually take their places. It may seem far away but we are stronger together than alone.”