Even indoors and at home, self-isolating is hard work

Covid-19 could spread like wildfire in the country's congested townships, where social distancing is nearly impossible.
Covid-19 could spread like wildfire in the country's congested townships, where social distancing is nearly impossible.
Image: 123RF / maridav

Social distancing and self-isolation became de rigeur after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a national state of disaster this week. But many are having a tough time of it.

Tiffany Gore, 30, a hotel guest relations manager, travelled to London on holiday earlier this month and has had to isolate herself after coming home from a high-risk area.

“It has been quite a challenge because I still live at home and my father is high-risk because he has prostate cancer and has recently gone for treatment,” she said.

Gore says she’s had to stay in her bedroom the entire time and can only leave either when no one is home or when she needs to use the kitchen.

“I have to be very careful with everything I touch and have to make sure it all gets sanitised afterwards.”

She has been keeping herself busy by working out in her room, reading and chatting to friends online.

“It is quite challenging to not take anything to heart. I feel like I am being treated like a leper, but at least I understand the reasons why.”

Academic and activist Candice Chirwa is practising social distancing because her community work - conducting workshops and mentoring high school students - requires her to deal with large numbers of people.

“I now have to be innovative and think of a strategic way of ensuring that the work that I do continues and that I can still provide education to the youth in a safe way, digitally,” she said.

After a medical student at the University of the Witwatersrand tested positive for Covid-19, the university shut down and asked students in residences to go home, leaving some with a moral dilemma.

An arts student, who identified herself only as Thandolwethu, lives in a private residence and won’t leave because she fears for her grandparents’ health.

To get home, the 18-year-old “would need to go to Bree Street to catch a taxi that would take me to Diepsloot, where I would come into contact with a lot of different people and could either catch the virus or spread it,” she aid.

She lives in an RDP house in Diepsloot with her grandparents, an aunt, an uncle and two cousins. Eight tenants live in backyard shacks on the property, which means she will be in immediate contact with 15 people. The tenants are all either retail or domestic workers and use public transport, which meant that if she carried the virus, they could easily pass it on.

“My grandfather recently had tuberculosis and my grandmother has high blood pressure and suffers a lot from bronchitis, which causes her to constantly have a cough that rarely goes away. I do not want to jeopardise their health, which is already at risk,” she said.


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