Maverick Citizen Exclusive

Humans of Covid-19, in 13 pictures

Humans of Covid-19, in 13 pictures
A delighted Fred Nkomo fist-pumps a volunteer healthcare worker after being taken off supplementary oxygen. While the intermediate care section of Nasrec field hospital is operational, and has oxygen for 143 patients now, it depends on sufficient clinical staff to operate these beds. It remains fully dependent on volunteer doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists and requires more of these cadres to open and operate more beds. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)

While the country argues over whether to wear masks or not, when the alcohol ban must be lifted, or why children need to go back to school (or not), ordinary people are lying in South African hospitals fighting for breath, or undertaking the heroic work of helping others to breathe. Photojournalist Chris Collingridge shares 13 images to tell stories of service, compassion, determination and survival. (All the people photographed gave their informed consent.)

We read about the science of survival rates, treatments, oxygen and other interventions, but sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the fact that regular folk are at the centre of this pandemic. Maverick Citizen was given exclusive access to capture some of the “Humans of Covid-19” at Johannesburg’s vast 600-plus-bed Nasrec field hospital. The intermediate care section (oxygen) of the hospital, where we spent some time, is staffed by a mix of volunteer doctors and allied healthcare workers and contracted clinical associates and nursing staff who are caring for Covid-19 patients in an attempt to lighten the load on the province’s overburdened hospitals. While health workers are undisputed heroes, the patients courageously face their own daily battles.

Or if you are a doctor, physiotherapist, occupational therapist or any other registered healthcare worker and want to volunteer at Nasrec field hospital sign up here.

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Watched on by a patient, Lynne Wilkinson confers remotely with Dr Richard Cooke. Both are volunteers who are assisting at the field hospital. Volunteer clinicians have been critical to the emergency response in the fight against Covid-19. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)

An unidentified cleaner disinfects a ward. Surface disinfection is one of the many activities performed by staff who are vital to the effective running of the field hospital. 
(Photo: Chris Collingridge)



A multitude of professional staff with different skill sets are required in an intermediate care isolation service – doctors, clinical associates, nurses (registered and other cadres) and, very importantly, allied health professionals including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians and psychologists. These committed staff need to work for at least six hours in full PPE without being able to drink or go to the bathroom – not an easy physical or mental undertaking. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)


Clinical volunteer Dr Claire Castelyn explains oxygen saturation results to Josephine Kunene, a patient at the Nasrec hospital. Oxygen saturation, blood sugar levels, temperature and blood pressure are key monitoring components of Covid-19 management. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)


Physiotherapist volunteer Terry Rogan takes Josephine Kunene, who is hooked up to supplementary oxygen, through a series of exercises to aid recovery. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)

Physiotherapist volunteer Terry Rogan takes Josephine Kunene, who is hooked up to supplementary oxygen, through a series of exercises to aid recovery. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)


A clinical associate, Oupa Mofokeng, initially volunteering and now contracted by the Department of Health assists a patient with a mobile oxygen unit to the bathroom. More clinical staff are needed. While the field hospital has more beds for Covid-19 patients still requiring supplemental oxygen and clinical care but no longer needing to take up a bed in one of Johannesburg public sector tertiary hospitals, sufficient clinical staffing remains the limiting factor. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)



A volunteer enrolled nurse, Precious Ntozakhe, helps to feed a patient. 
The care requirements for patients at the hospital are constant and varied and require all nursing skill levels. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)


Patients with confirmed Covid-19 and well enough to not require oxygen or focused clinical care but who cannot safely isolate at home, bask in the sun in the outdoor isolation area at the Nasrec field hospital. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)

Staff escort a new arrival to an intermediate care section of the Nasrec field hospital. While the hospital takes the strain off Gauteng’s over-extended public sector hospitals, sufficient staff and oxygen are required to manage the increased number of Covid-19 patients. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)


Encouraged by allied healthcare volunteers, Cynthia Phika does breathing exercises while hooked up to supplementary oxygen on her own. Breathing exercises, aimed at opening up the lungs, aid recovery. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)

Volunteer care workers measure a patient’s oxygen saturation. Oxygen saturation, blood sugar levels, temperature and blood pressure are key monitoring components of Covid-19 management. Despite receiving welcome donations of oxygen concentrators at the Nasrec Field Hospital there is an urgent need for clinical volunteers at the Intermediate care centre. The field hospital may have bed capacity for over extended hospitals but staff as well as oxygen are required to deal with an increased influx of Covid-19 victims. (Photo: Chris Collingridge)




"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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