Groote Schuur Hospital’s principal porter, Rodger Morris, has been back at work for nearly a month after making a full recovery from Covid-19.
In his job supervising the hospital porters and wheeling patients through the wards, including to the Covid-19 testing centre, he comes into contact with a lot of sick people, but the 26-year-old from Belhar says his diagnosis at the end of March still came as a shock.
“I was screened and I told the health staff that I felt dizzy. I had a terrible headache, body pain and my throat was sore.”
It’s possible, he says, that he was ultimately infected not by a patient suspected of having Covid-19 but by one who wasn’t.
“I always wore my masks and gloves when I transported patients under suspicion of Covid-19 though not all the time when I transported other regular hospital patients so that is how I may have contracted the virus.”
After testing positive, he was sent to the Covid-19 unit at Tygerberg Hospital on March 30 but discharged the following day after being instructed to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
“I told them that I can’t self-isolate at home as I stay with family, my mum has heart problems, my dad is diabetic and I share a room with my brother and uncle.”
So the hospital booked him into a quarantine facility in Milnerton.
Whenever he received his meals, the staff would knock on his door and he would have to wait for two minutes before he could collect his food.
“It was really an emotional and lonely time for me,” he says, adding though that the support he got from his community helped him get through it.
It saddened him that he couldn’t be at his daughter, Courtney Echardt’s 6th birthday, although he was able to speak to her over the phone.
He says his symptoms vanished after three days in quarantine.
Both his mother, Lorraine, 63, and father, John, 60, also ended up testing positive for Covid-19. They got their results the day after their son.
“Immediately after I got my test results on March 30, I informed my family to get tested immediately,” Mr Morris says.
His parents self isolated alone at their Belhar home, while his brother and uncle, who both tested negative for Covid-19, had to stay with other relatives.
Mr Morris’s parents have since made a full recovery.
Mr Morris returned to work on Friday April 24.
“I was a little concerned that people were going to be scared of me because I had been infected with Covid-19, though the hospital and my colleagues welcomed me back with open arms.”
Mr Morris takes Covid-19 safety protocols extremely seriously: he regularly sanitises his telephone, as well as wheelchairs, trolleys and oxygen tanks. He keeps his distance from others and wears his mask and gloves at all times.
“You must keep the faith; this virus will not continue forever,” he says. “Those that are healthy must appreciate life and play their part in ensuring that the virus doesn’t spread.”