The Van der Merwe family from Makhanda in the Eastern Cape.

WATCH: Parents of 3 share Covid-19 recovery story

“I think because the kids had been educated about this virus, when they heard that their parents got it, it became very real.”

CAPE TOWN- Parents of three from Makhanda in the Eastern Cape who had both tested positive for Covid-19 said they were overwhelmed from the support of their community and how their children between the ages of 4 and 10 stepped up to care for them. 

Leslie and Leanne van der Merwe, ages 41 and 37 respectively, said their road to recovery was tough but it was made easier when their group of friends had set up a WhatsApp support group to organise ready-made meals for their family. 

“Both Leslie and I were literally man down. I think there were six days where we both couldn’t move, we couldn’t get out of bed, we couldn’t watch TV and we didn’t want to read. With the three kids it was tough, and I do get emotional talking about it because they were incredible. Our oldest daughter literally ran the household for us for about 3 or 4 days,” said Leanne. 

“We completely forgot about homeschooling, washing and cleaning. The house was a bit upside down. I think because they’ve been educated about this virus, when they heard that their parents had got it, it became very real,” she continued. 

Leslie said that his early Covid-19 symptoms included a sore throat, hot flushes and fatigue, which prompted his wife to book a doctor’s appointment. “When I got to the doctor, my temperature just spiked and that’s when he said I should get tested,” he said. 

The following morning, Leslie said he woke up and he knew he had Covid-19. “I felt like I had been hung up like a boxing bag. My chest and back were sore and it felt like my kidneys had been boxed.”

Leslie tested positive for Covid-19 on June 15 and Leanne on June 19.

Leanne said that while her symptoms weren’t as intense as her husbands, she struggled with persisting headaches. 

“Where Leslie had that known Covid-19 cough and sore throat, I rather had a really bad and constant headache. It’s a different headache to just a normal sinus headache. I had body pains and while I didn’t have a cough but it did feel like someone was sitting on my chest,” she said.  

On day four at 11pm, Leslie said that he couldn’t control his breathing. “That was the first time I was actually scared.” 

“My temperature was out of control, my chest was sore. I’ve done Ironman before and I’ve done a cycle to Namibia so I’ve got a strong mindset. I always felt like I was in control but on that night, it felt like I wasn’t in control,” he continued.

Leslie said that 2am the next morning he felt a change and started feeling better. “My turning point was seeing the support and love from our friends and family, that’s what pulled me through.”

It took Leslie and Leanne 10-14 days until they started feeling better and recovered from Covid-19. 

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