The doctor of a private practice in Hilton, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, who saw SA's first confirmed coronavirus patient says she is as “fit as a fiddle”.
Dr Robyn Ann Reed, a general practitioner, attended to a patient on March 3 at her practice and recommended that he take a swab test. The man was told on Thursday by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) that he tested positive for coronavirus.
Reed spoke exclusively to TimesLIVE and said it was “business as usual”, with the doors of the practice remaining open.
She said she was contacted by the NICD on Thursday morning.
“For patients that are brave enough, we are treating those people. I was told that I should go into 14 days of quarantine and later that's been changed — this is a newish thing — and so the NICD and the other people that are giving advice are finding their way as well. Now the feeling is that for health-care professionals to be taking 14 days off is just not practical.”
She said she had been told that she could go back to consulting provided she was not sick and observed the necessary precautions, such as wearing a mask.
“A person who might be carrying the virus should wear a mask. We're washing our hands and going around our rooms regularly, disinfecting every hour or so.”
Reed said she personally felt that this would turn out to be a “storm in a teacup” in the context of her practice.
“The majority of the people in my practice are really pretty healthy individuals and they're not going to be a huge risk. The patient I treated on Tuesday is already much better.”
She urged people to stop panicking.
“This is just a new kind of flu and you need to take the same precautions as if you have the normal flu. You have to wash your hands, you're not going to touch your face, you're not going to sneeze or cough on people.”
She said the people who were not ill would need to try to keep a 2m distance from those who were coughing or sneezing — a common practice when engaging with anyone with flu.
“Try not to shake hands, kiss or hug people. I think it's mainly about common sense, I think people are really overreacting,” she said.
Reed's office released a statement on Friday saying their practice was not closed and that her colleagues posed no health risks.
“The staff are adhering to precautionary measures. Dr Bruce has not been exposed at all to the infected patient and will be seeing patients as usual. Sister Brenda DID NOT take the swabs, the patient went to a laboratory for testing,” the statement read.