A life-and-death fight with Covid-19

Diep River data analyst Winston Cogill came home in March after 158 days in hospital with coronavirus pneumonia.

A Diep River data analyst has survived Covid-19 pneumonia… only just. He spent 158 days in hospital, 122 of them in ICU on a ventilator.

With the third wave upon us, Winston Cogill, 54, says he has learnt many life lessons during this time, most importantly about the need to be physically fit.

“I succumbed to the lie that I was too busy to exercise, what with work and Bible study. If I’d been fitter, my recovery would be faster and my immune system stronger,” he says.

As a diabetic, Mr Cogill advises those with comorbidities to keep them under control. He did not.

On Tuesday June 15, following the announcement that the country had officially entered its third wave of Covid-19 infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the move to level-3 lockdown

On Monday June 21, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) announced that the national government had secured 140 000 doses this week of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose Covid-19 vaccine for the public sector, including independent schools. These doses have now been approved and are earmarked for roll-out on Friday June 25 in the province.

According to the provincial government’s Covid-19 data, as of Tuesday June 22, there were 12 695 active cases in the province with 12 102 deaths. On May 19, there were 233 cases a day in the province, on a seven-day moving average. On June 19, there were 1050.

Nationwide, more than 1.8 million people have so far tested positive for Covid19, and more than 58 000 have died.

Premier Alan Winde said the province was prepared to respond to the increasing number of Covid-19 infections.

Mr Cogill has been home since Thursday March 11 and spends his days on supplemental oxygen, blowing into a bottle to build up his lungs, and visiting physiotherapists to learn how to walk again. But, he said, he was getting stronger every day.

Mr Cogill said he could not have done it without his wife, Claire, and the nursing staff and team of experts at Groote Schuur Hospital. “It’s thanks to them that I’m alive today.”

It started with flu-like symptoms and his doctor referred him to Victoria Hospital. From there, he was transferred to Groote Schuur, which has better facilities for dealing with Covid-19.

However, it wasn’t long before Ms Cogill received a call asking her to go to the hospital and say goodbye to her husband. But between that call and her arrival, there was a slight glimmer of hope and Mr Cogill recovered, only to go through a second near-death experience and be revived.

“I am here by the grace of God and will get through and come out stronger,” he said.

Groote Schuur Hospital spokesman Alaric Jacobs said Mr Cogill had set a record at the hospital for a Covid patient with the longest stay in ICU, at 122 days.

“We wish Mr Cogill well with his complete recovery from Covid-19,” he said.