Don’t let your guard down

Delaray Fourie of Kraaifontein.

Contact tracing is vital in the fight against Covid-19, says Tygerberg Hospital’s deputy director for comprehensive health programmes, Delaray Fourie, of Kraaifontein, who has led the contact-tracing team in the northern suburbs.

Since March, workers went door to door to slow the spread of the virus, but they faced challenges, says Ms Fourie.

“We followed up with all positive clients when the virus first hit,” says Ms Fourie, “not only the person who was positive, but the people they came into contact with. We had conversations with them to check on how they were doing, and we provided health-care advice. It started off as contact tracing according to what the guidelines had set out, but it ended up being much more.”

She says counselling was crucial because many people feared being stigmatised by community members. “Some people felt this disease was isolated and wouldn’t impact them. We had to deal with all of this through counselling. Initially it was two or three people only; nobody wanted to speak about having it. But we worked around this,” says Ms Fourie.

While active Covid-19 cases in the Western Cape have dropped, contact-tracing teams continue to work around the clock to prevent the spread of infections. Ms Fourie’s colleague, Dr Nosi Kalawe, of Bellville, says they’ve relied on teamwork to get through the peak in the province.

“We have learnt that it is important that community health services work with people in infectious-disease departments and with others on substructure levels and beyond,” says Dr Kalawe.

Dr Kalawe says she worked with a group of nurses and initially did clinical consultations. “If there were complications or they needed to visit a facility I would guide that. Some of them were chronic patients and I organised with the nearest facilities. We would also arrange for medication to be dropped,” says Dr Kalawe.

While the country has moved to level-1 lockdown, Dr Kalawe says we still can’t afford to let our guard down. 

“The fight against the virus is not over. Lockdown levels may have gone down, but level 1 doesn’t mean the infections are gone. Tracking and tracing are ongoing. We need to continue these efforts.”