‘Being one of first cases, I was scared’
His colleagues’ joke that he is “patient zero”, having been the first medical practitioner at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town to contract the coronavirus.
But now, less than two months later, things have thankfully returned to normal for Dr Peter Botha.
The newly-wed former Port Elizabeth resident, who specialises in orthopaedics, said he was first tested for Covid-19 on March 16, when he and his wife returned home from their honeymoon in Bali.
But the test returned negative.
“Seventeen days later I became sick. I was on call that night, but I felt feverish and had body aches.”
He informed his colleagues that he was unwell and went home.
Botha, 33, said by this stage he had also started with a dry cough.
He was diagnosed with Covid-19 a few days later.
Being one of the first known cases, Botha admits that he was scared.
Though he was more at risk than most people, being in the medical industry, he said he was still surprised when he was informed that he had tested positive.
“There was not a lot of information to go on at the time.
“At that stage, I thought of it as a type of flu but I quickly found out that it is so much more than that.
“You don’t know what is going to happen from day to day.
“My main focus was just to avoid having to be put on a ventilator.”
The doctor had self-isolated from his wife, who tested negative for the virus.
Botha’s condition later deteriorated into pneumonia.
“I am a fairly healthy guy and it was the first time I have had pneumonia,” he said.
He also experienced most of the symptoms.
“I was very fatigued and had a loss of smell and taste. I coughed throughout.”
He recalls day eight as being the hardest.
“You worry about the people you were with before testing.
“You try to remember who you came into contact with.
“I was lucky to have received an immense amount of support, especially from my colleagues," he said.
- Kathryn Kimberley