Tracking down the virus

Fadwah Vardien forms part of the Covid-19 Response Team.

Hangberg’s Fadwah Vardien is required to run towards the coronavirus, instead of hiding away from it.

The 54-year-old Ms Vardien is a community care worker who now conducts Covid-19 screenings and acts as a linkage officer to help those who test positive as part of the Covid-19 response team.

She recently took part in a Covid-19 Training Programme, run by the Department of Health, which raises awareness around the virus and measures that should be put in place when it is encountered.

“It’s quite a scary feeling, but the programme helped to make me more aware and educate me about the dangers of this virus,” Ms Vardien said.

“The training has really helped me alot, but again, this is quite a scary experience.”

It comes at a cost though, with many in the community refusing to make contact with her, knowing all too well that her job requires her to track down the virus.

“I have to walk around with this T-shirt which says I am part of the Covid-19 response team, so when people see me, they usually turn the other way as they know I actually work with people who have the virus. It’s not nice, but I have to continue as this is my job,” she explains.

Ms Vardien’s family has also not taken lightly to her having to be out in the community when infections are on the rise.

The words “somebody needs to do this job”, sends a chill down their spines.

“My family is not happy at all, but there is nothing I can do about as this is an essential service for the community. I put myself into somebody else’s footsteps, had I been the person who tested positive, I would have wanted somebody to care for me as well,” she said.
Ms Vardien’s day starts bright and early, where she heads out into the community to perform screenings and also spends time tracing down potential Covid-19 patients.

Once they discover a positive case, the person is referred to the community day centre, where they are guided by safety measures in order to properly contain the virus.

“It really is quite nerve-racking to be that close to something that is destroying and taking so many lives around the world. But I always make sure that I do the necessary every time I come home, such as wash my hands properly and disinfect everything I had on,” Ms Vardien said.

“It’s a daily routine now for me, because I have to think about my family as well and keep them safe.”

When one of the first cases was confirmed in Hout Bay a few weeks ago, Ms Vardien was part of the team who went out to track down the patient and also placed the patient under quarantine.

“I am very fearful of contracting this virus and I am scared that I might bring this home to my family, but I see it this way, what must be, will be and I continue to do the right things like protecting myself and ensuring that I follow all the health and safety requirements needed,” she added.

Ms Vardien said the community must take heed of the fact that the virus is a real threat, with the pandemic spreading rapidly.

“At first this was just a virus and everybody thought it was like the flu. Now that I have seen the virus moving at this speed, the virus is in our communities and it has come all the way from China and hit Hout Bay really hard,” she said.