Fighting to Live During a Nationwide COVID-19 Lockdown

Megan Hunter avatar

by Megan Hunter |

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On March 15, South Africa waited with bated breath for its president to address new measures to fight COVID-19. Countless messages of anticipation cycled between family and friends in those moments.

“Do you think schools will be closed?”

“What will happen to our jobs?”

“Will our hospitals be able to cope?”

“Do you think I will survive?”

President Cyril Ramaphosa urged everyone to realize the severity of the pandemic before he announced the closing of schools across the country. Many businesses also have closed. As of March 16, South Africa has 61 confirmed cases of COVID-19. We can’t afford to have this disease spread further.

In 2017, The South African Medical Journal noted that we have about 102,000 hospital beds. The hospital bed utilization rate on average in 2017 was 68.3 percent. Based on that data, across the entire country, we have almost 32 percent of 102,000 beds available, or about 32,000 beds.

Even if nonessential beds are emptied, my country will be in danger. Additionally, about 450,000 people in South Africa develop tuberculosis every year, and lung disease heightens the lethality of COVID-19.

Will we have enough beds?

Poverty and pandemic

Personal hygiene is of the utmost importance, but getting society at large to wash their hands more frequently is difficult when more than 50 percent of South African households don’t have piped water, and 12 percent have no access to water at all.

For many, hand sanitizer is the next best option after hand-washing. But many South Africans don’t have the money for hand sanitizer, and it’s sold out in most places.

A majority of our population lives in poverty. How is social distancing practiced when many families sleep five people per room? Plus, many don’t have paid leave, so no work means no pay. When a family of five survives on one income, missing work is unthinkable.

So, to put this crisis into summary: A highly contagious virus is spreading like wildfire between people. These same people ride in overloaded transport, jam-packed like sardines with often double the number of passengers than should be permitted. They live bundled together under the breadline and have no means to practice appropriate safe hygiene. There is a high percentage of vulnerability due to tuberculosis. In 2017, South Africa’s healthcare was ranked 119 of 195 in the world.

Do you understand my concern?

My community is on lockdown for the next two weeks. My husband shopped this morning and sent me photos of empty shelves — no meat, bread, vegetables, or toilet paper. What will happen to those who already struggled to survive before COVID-19 hit? How will they afford to live?

This is our reality of living in a country steeped in impoverishment.

We are crying.


Myasthenia Gravis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


Wanda Jewett avatar

Wanda Jewett

Prayers for South Africa, for you and your friends and loved ones, and for all the world in this terrible time.

Joan Medi avatar

Joan Medi

Having MG had gotten me closer to Jehovah God, family and friends. Our faith in him it’s helping us get through any trials or tribulations that comes our way. It will do the same for you. (James 4:8) Take care. Be safe

Joyce Mock avatar

Joyce Mock

Hi Joan! I’m a JW in Western Australia. So few cases of MG here, I googled MG and JW. May I ask you about your experiences with MG as a JW? Thank you so much! [email protected]

Joseph Phillips avatar

Joseph Phillips

My prayers are also with you. Here in the United States, ignorance is also a contributor to the pandemic -- the resistance to social distancing, panic hoarding leading to empty store shelves, and our own Federal government's unwillingness to deal directly with the crisis... but I cry for you. And as a fellow MG sufferer, it was a shock to hear one of my employers -- a medical education professional, no less! -- call me to my face a "disease vector." I am no more likely than anyone else, sick or well, to be a "carrier" of the virus -- indeed, more likely a victim than a "vector"! and with estimates being proferred of between 40 and 80 percent of Americans likely to be infected eventually, I wait in some trepidation....

Iris Robin avatar

Iris Robin

Have I missed it? Where is an article for mg patients specifically addressing possible covid-19 issues?
•should a patient still go to his/her facility for infusion? If so, what are the questions to ask for precautions in place?
Personally, I am interested in medical and scientific articles addressing mg and covid-19. I don’t need more articles about empty shelves. The shelves are empty all over the globe. I pray for those in South Africa with no running water or access to clean water.


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