A South African couple who moved to Australia to help with the coronavirus response has told of the devastating impact of the virus back home.
A South African doctor couple who moved to Melbourne to help out with the Covid-19 response say Australians are “lucky” to have avoided the devastating virus waves that claimed the lives of several colleagues, friends and family members back home.
Marcel and Charlotte Jagga said they were impressed with the preparedness that Australia was afforded by its coronavirus suppression strategy, which kept case numbers to a minimum until the second half of this year.
“I think Australia is really lucky (in the sense) that they had a little bit of buffer and time to see what was going on in the rest of the world, and to learn from those experiences, and to see what mistakes were made and how to improve on that,” Charlotte Jagga said.
The couple were invited to speak at the Tuesday coronavirus press conference in Melbourne as part of an announcement by the Victorian government that up to 1000 overseas health workers would be recruited.
The project will mean the state‘s overseas healthcare workforce will be slightly greater than pre-pandemic levels, which was a yearly average of about 700 to 800 people.
“This is about easing the pressure placed on our paramedics, nurses, midwives, doctors and other health professionals by helping more healthcare workers to seamlessly return to these crucial jobs that need to be done,“ Health Minister Martin Foley said.
About 130 of the workers have already entered the state, including the Jaggas.
Charlotte Jagga said it was terrifying to experience the force of the successive coronavirus waves in South Africa, one of the continent’s hardest-hit countries.
“We’ve both lost our grandparents, we’ve lost uncles, we’ve lost colleagues, we have lots of friends who became ill,” Dr Jagga said.
“We didn’t anticipate how diminished our actual workforce would become – either being in quarantine or being ill – so that, for us, was really hard emotionally do deal with … It was really difficult seeing the suffering.”
The South African Medical Research Council says there have been more than 262,000 excess deaths since May 2020, many of which are thought to be related to Covid-19.