Archive: COVID-19



 CovidCom met this morning; it was our 30th formal meeting, and on top of many informal meetings and telephone conversations held since the outbreak of the pandemic in our country in March 2020. 

Recent Covid infections within MHA (residents and staff) peaked at 21 cases, but we have had no further cases since last reporting to you. We all know that this can change in a flash, and so we should all keep on doing what we need to do, to stay safe. 

Globally there is continuing hype, some of it bordering on hysteria, regarding the Omicron variant. Within SA we are definitely in the fourth wave. Interestingly, the daily new Covid cases across the country peaked at 13449 in July 2020 (1st wave), 20999 in January 2021 (2nd), 22910 in July 2021 (3rd), and as of yesterday there were 23857 new cases. Some overseas countries are showing massive increases; winter plays a role in this, but there has been some reckless relaxations of safety rules. Overseas travel restrictions have just added to the misery, felt by tens of millions of people, across the world. We must, and will, continue to be optimistic, courageous, and look after one another. 

What do you want for Christmas? According to a 1948 song: “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”, while a 1994 hit song told us: “All I want for Christmas is you”! Probably No.1 on your list to Santa this year is a plea to return us to some sort of normal; to get your lives back; to just be free again. CovidCom members know that some of this could be achieved by ensuring some ‘normality’ at Christmas time, but we are also mindful that a significant spike in infections and/or new Lockdown restrictions implemented by Government could undo all of this. 

After much debate CovidCom decided that the following changes and arrangements will apply to CP Bradfield Frail Care (CPB), Maranatha Frail Care (MFC) and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters (BZB): 

  • Lockdown will be lifted at all three facilities during the period 09h00 on Friday 24 December to 16h00 on Sunday 26 December 2021, allowing residents to go out and to be with loved ones for a while 
  • Any resident wanting to go out at any time during this window period must make arrangements accordingly with the Sister on Duty (CPB: 041-3606474/MFC: 041-3652233). This will enable staff to keep track of movements, and for catering purposes 
  • Residents leaving MHA’s facilities over the Christmas period will do so at their own risk 
  • Residents and their loved ones are urged to avoid large/public gatherings, and to ensure proper ventilation in any facility being visited 
  • Our Nursing Services Manager Sanet Marx will be on leave 16 December 2021 to 2 January 2022 inclusive. Matron Nelmari Windell will be standing in for her during this period, supported by our Professional Nurse/Counsellor Gillian le Roux. 

CovidCom members wish all of our residents and staff across MHA, and the wider MHA family, a Blessed Christmas, a safe and joyous festive season, and God’s protection now and in 2022. We may still be at War, but let us celebrate some Peace at this special time (apologies to Leo Tolstoy!!) 




Since the outbreak of the pandemic in our country in March 2020, we have all done our best to keep the virus away from MHA. Rules and regulations and Lockdowns were put in place by Government and/or by CovidCom, and our residents and staff did everything expected of them, and more, in complying. The results of those decisions and that attitude paid huge dividends; during the period March to December 2020 we recorded 39 Covid-positive cases among residents, and 23 among staff, with almost no cases requiring hospitalization, and only 4 deaths. Then during the period January to November 2021 inclusive we recorded NO Covid infections within MHA. 

Sadly, in the blink of an eye this has changed dramatically. Over the past weekend a village resident who was temporarily in Maranatha Frail Care (MFC) required hospitalization, and was tested Covid-positive on admission to hospital. MHA was informed of this on Sunday, and MFC was locked down, as a precaution. By 08h00 on Monday CovidCom had met, and decided that MFC should remain locked down. Owing to its proximity to Maranatha Village it was decided to lock down that facility too. All residents of the Village were tested for Covid, and all showed a negative result (as a result of the testing, the lockdown of Maranatha Village was lifted on Monday afternoon). 

However, the Covid scenario in MFC, and now at CP Bradfield Frail Care (CPB) too, is changing; as of this morning a total of 8 residents and 10 staff have tested Covid positive. None has thus far showed any aggressive symptoms, but all Covid-positive residents are being confined to their rooms, and affected staff sent home. Staff on duty are wearing barrier nursing equipment, and the situation is being continuously monitored. The Department of Health has now given training to Matrons Marx and Windell to carry out rapid testing on site, and the necessary equipment has been provided. Testing has been done, and this improves our response time and our decision-making. 

Rapid testing has also just been carried out on residents at Bob Zeiss Bedsitters (BZB); all results are negative. We needed some good news! 

CovidCom reviewed our position again this morning, and the following decisions were taken: 

  • Visitors are still allowed into CPB and BZB (existing arrangements apply) 
  • NO visitors are allowed into MFC 
  • Residents at CPB, BZB and MFC are ‘locked in’ i.e. cannot leave the premises 
  • CovidCom will review this on a daily basis (we are acutely aware that Christmas is a fortnight away) 

This outbreak again demonstrates just how quickly Covid infection can occur, and how it can spread. It is virtually impossible to establish how and when an infection occurs (generally, not just in this instance), and so we need to respond reactively as quickly as possible. Fortunately, CovidCom and our nursing staff are trained to put preventative measures in place at a moment’s notice, and this is what has happened during this week. We must just hope, and pray, that the spread has been contained. The outbreak is also a stark reminder to all of us who make up the MHA family that Covid is still stalking us, day and night, and that we must continue to be vigilant. In this regard, please remain compliant with Government’s and MHA’s rules and regulations, and continue with mask-wearing, sanitizing, social distancing, and avoiding crowds irrespective of size. 

Please continue to take special care of yourselves, and of those in your family or community. 


This was the title of a successful stage musical in the 1960’s. The title was allegedly borrowed from a piece of graffito on a wall, but it gave birth to a slang phrase used ever since. In simple language it means: “Stop, I’m tired of this. I’ve had enough”. 

No one will blame you, or think less of you, if this describes how you’re feeling right now. A second year having a killer virus in our midst. Another Christmas when we can’t celebrate as we would wish. Another holiday period when family and friends can’t take a proper break, and visit those they love in the way they used to. Yet another month when healthcare workers go to work in fear. Yet another month of Lockdown, in one form or another. No sooner had we sort of got our heads around SARS-CoV-2 (the latest COVID, discovered in 2019, hence the full title COVID-19) than we had to try to understand the variants Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and now Omicron. Enough already! Stop the world—I want to get off!!! 

In every developed country across the globe there are teams of brilliant scientists (yes, especially in South Africa) who are finding ways to get us through this pandemic. Let us continue to have faith in them to develop new and better vaccines to protect us. Let us also be ever mindful of the service and sacrifice of our healthcare workers; brilliant doctors, dedicated nursing staff, and everyone who enables them to do what they do best. The world won’t stop, and they’ll make sure that we stay safely on board! 

CovidCom met yesterday. There was serious debate and discussion about the Omicron variant which has caused such havoc in the past week or more. It was not the forum for moaning about the rash decisions around air travel, but instead we concentrated on what our State President said (or didn’t say) in his address on Sunday night, and we discussed the rising infection numbers in our country, especially in Gauteng. We must all bear in mind that Gautengers are going to descend on our city over the next six weeks, having a holiday or visiting friends and family here (including many in the MHA family). The risk of a significant spike in infections is real. CovidCom will monitor this, and meet again in a week’s time. It was decided that no changes should be made now to our rules and regulations; any tightening or loosening will depend on how the Covid monster moves. Science and signs will inform us on the best way forward. 

We are acutely aware that many residents and their loved ones want to make plans around Christmas; this is a dilemma facing families and communities across the world. Let us pray that governments and others in positions of authority across the world won’t be called upon to impose any harsh measures. 

Please continue to take special care of yourselves, and of those in your family or community. 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 



As a country and a City, and as the MHA family, we have had a rough ride for exactly 600 days, and yet the end seems nowhere in sight! 

Official Lockdown, announced by President Ramaphosa, was introduced on 27 March 2020, 600 days ago, in the first of countless subsequent ‘family meeting’ broadcasts. Enough already!! 

If we turn the clock forward by 600 days it would take us to 10 July 2023; that’s a very long way off, and no retiree in his/her right mind should be planning that far ahead! I suppose that we can take a little comfort from some ‘time’ trivia: the Crusades lasted just over 600 years, and the partial lunar eclipse happening on 19 November will be the longest in almost 600 years (no partial lunar eclipse has lasted longer since 1440, and none will last this long again until 2669). This is really useful for forward planning! Enough already----again! 


In one word----TOUGH!!!! None of us, neither the scientists nor the sceptics nor the billions of ordinary people, ushered in the year 2020 hearing a clear warning that TOUGH times were ahead. Some of those who took the threat seriously enough believed that it would pass relatively quickly, just like serious influenza outbreaks did in recent decades, but almost no one saw the tsunami on the horizon or heard the rumbling of the volcano which followed, and which has devastated our world in the ways it has done. 

PLEASE remember that you are not alone. MHA is blessed to have the caring skills of Charné Eaton, a registered Social Worker in private practice, at our disposal, should any resident or staff member need practical help in coping with some of the devastating emotional and other effects of the Covid pandemic. Charné has established a working group of residents who meet, in order to talk through coping mechanisms (what you can/want/need to do in in order to move forward into the uncertain future). Please speak to your Manager if you need some practical and loving help. It is never too late. 2 | P a g e 


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, 
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, 
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, 
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, 
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, 
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…..” 

This is how Chapter One of Charles Dickens’ 1859 novel “A Tale of Two Cities” begins. The novel tells the story of an Englishman and a Frenchman and the parallels in London and Paris in the years leading up to the French Revolution. It has occurred to me that we can apply the same parallels to the past 600 days; the Covid times. 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times: It has been terrible for everyone, but remember the early days of lockdown when there was no traffic or planes, no pollution or noise; when the animals returned? This said, nothing can overshadow the worst that the pandemic has thrown at us 

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness: We all obeyed the rules while scientists across the world developed vaccines in quick time, and yet there were and still are groups who believe that Covid is a conspiracy, or the vaccine will cause infertility, or that a tiny chip is injected into the bloodstream to monitor and alter what we think and do, or that wearing a mask infringes one’s rights! 

It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity: For months our brains were bombarded by TV reports and other media coverage of the growing pandemic, and the death, destruction and misery it wreaked, which we generally just accepted. However, over time many people across the world moved to a state of being unwilling or unable to believe it all; it was nearly impossible to believe our own eyes and ears, such was the scale and severity of the Covid war which we had no time to prepare for 

It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness: Somehow we adapted to the new world of Covid and Lockdown. There were even some bonuses; working from home, spending more time with family, reaching out to the community. But deprivation, sickness and death, being separated from family and friends, and compliance with laws and rules, brought darkness and hardship to so many lives 

It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair: We constantly looked for signs of improvement in our everyday lives; relaxed rules and regulations, vaccination roll-out, businesses and borders opening up again. But on the flipside was despair; the spectre of death (over 5 million to date), the loss of a job and income, the reality of hunger, the disintegration of relationships, and the escalation in abuse 

We had everything before us, we had nothing before us: Facing the most significant threat to humankind since WWII, and the enforced Lockdown existence, we still had an opportunity to recalibrate our lives and our lifestyles, and the ways in which we have abused Planet Earth, but we largely let that slide. Instead, our priorities got jumbled, our brains got overloaded with negative news, data and thoughts, and we allowed hopelessness and stress to drag us down, potentially leaving us with nothing. 

Dickens’ 162 year old fictional tale does not end happily at all! Let us close with two positive messages: 

1. At last, you have a Newsflash which contains no new or amended Covid rules or regulations! 

2. The MHA family (staff, residents, families) are an incredibly resilient and courageous group of human beings. We have come so far in the Covid war. Let’s press on together. The end is in sight. 



We’re into Blah Blah Blah season; local politicians made Election promises they don’t comprehend and will never be able to honour; world leaders using gas-guzzling, carbon-spewing private jets to fly to the COP26 Climate Change conference in Glasgow where they will look back unashamedly at how nothing beneficial emerged from the last 25 COP gatherings; politicians everywhere (yes, them again!) putting their own spin on how magnificently their government has defeated Covid-19, yet ignoring the opinions and warnings of the scientists and healthcare workers who actually know what is going on; and shopping malls playing Boney M Christmas carols for the fortieth year in a row (their Christmas album was released in November 1981!!!). 

Not much changes, year to year----same old blah blah blah, with a touch of Feliz Navidad!!! 

Fortunately, CovidCom constantly reviews what changes need to be introduced within MHA, to keep us ahead of the Covid monster, and without any blah blah blah. Our country’s currently infection rate is probably being significantly under-reported, but nevertheless our infection numbers across the country appear to be reducing daily, for which we must be grateful. With that in mind, and as promised, CovidCom reviewed the changes introduced on Thursday 21 October, and yesterday it was unanimously agreed that the following change will be made, to be effective from Thursday 4 November 2021, affecting residents of CP Bradfield Frail Care, Maranatha Frail Care and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters: 

Residents will be allowed to leave the premises for shopping/social/personal reasons, on one day per week, between 09h00 and 16h00 (previously limited to two hours per week) 

All other rules and regulations listed in Newsflash #86 remain unchanged (visitors etc), and you are urged to abide by them. The MHA bus driver Mike has returned from leave, and the transport service is back in operation. Please refer to your Manager for the schedule affecting you. 

The MHA Board, Management, CovidCom and all staff members urge everyone (residents, friends and family) to continue to be careful and cautious, to continue to adhere to rules regarding masks, distance and sanitizing, and to continue to co-operate in fighting the Covid war. 

 HOW FAR HAS THE COVID COUNTDOWN PROGRESSED?                                   (10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-----) 

 There were plenty of televised countdowns for rocket launches in the 1960’s which captured the world’s imagination, and which showed the countdown as something positive. The previous association with countdown was seen as very negative, almost apocalyptic (think atomic bomb). The space rocket launches showed the countdown as a kind of genesis; the counting down to a new adventure, and a new beginning. 

Is this where the world finds itself now? Have we made sufficient progress in our war against Covid-19 that we can sense a new beginning? How are our City and MHA affected right now? Since 1 October we have been in Lockdown Level 1, a far cry from Level 5 which came into effect on 27 March 2020 (that was 571 days ago!!). Our Government defines the various Lockdown level criteria as follows: 

  • Alert Level 5: a high Covid-19 spread with a low health system readiness 
  • Alert Level 4: a moderate to high Covid-19 spread with a low to moderate health system readiness 
  • Alert Level 3: a moderate Covid-19 spread with a moderate health system readiness 
  • Alert Level 2: a moderate Covid-19 spread with a high health system readiness 
  • Alert Level 1: a low Covid-19 spread with a high health system readiness 

Thanks to discipline and co-operation on the part of our populace, and the widespread administration of vaccines, we now have a low Covid spread and a high health system readiness (vaccination sites, testing, hospitals). 

Globally we have learnt from bitter experience, and with huge loss of life (almost 5 million to date), that this Covid war can change direction in a deadly and rapid way, like with a runaway forest fire. Even if we believe that we are in ‘countdown’ mode towards a new beginning, we have to remain on our guard, to obey laws and regulations, and to keep on playing our part in winning this destructive war. There is still a real possibility of further waves and outbreaks, both locally and globally. Opening up borders for travellers, the Christmas holiday season, summer in South Africa, increasing ‘mass gatherings’, relaxation of rules and regulations, still vaccination hesitancy, the unpredictable behaviour of the virus; any or all of these could trigger another wave. We must all do what we can to prevent this from happening; remember that in protecting ourselves we will be protecting others too. 

CovidCom met yesterday to review where we are currently, and what we can or should do to move the MHA family closer to the ‘new beginning’ mentioned above. We are confident that we are moving in the right direction, while still remaining careful and cautious. We hope that the decisions made, and recorded on page 2, will be greeted with a mixture of relief and joy. More is yet to come! 

The Department of Social Development (referred to here as DSD) recently issued a document titled PROPOSED GUIDELINES FOR RELAXATION OF MOVEMENTS WITHIN RESIDENTIAL FACILITIES FOR OLDER PERSONS. We have used that document as a template for reviewing the ‘relaxations’ we have already put in place, and for informing what further changes we should now make. As always, MHA/CovidCom will not knowingly disobey rules and regulations dictated by Government, and we will continue to act in the best interests of residents, staff, and their loved ones. 

The following changes affecting residents of CP Bradfield Frail Care, Maranatha Frail Care and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters will come into effect on Thursday 21 October 2021 (and, for clarity, we record some existing or new rules associated with these changes): 

  1. Residents will be allowed to leave the premises for shopping/social/personal reasons, limited to two (2) hours per week 
  2. Residents will be allowed to leave the premises for medical reasons, to visit a bank, or for any other personal business-related reasons (this is the current position) 
  3. Regarding 1. and 2. above, any such movement out must be by prior arrangement with the Matron, either in person or by phone, between 08h00 and 16h00, Monday to Friday. 
  4. In addition, MHA is obligated by DSD to maintain a register of any resident leaving the premises, and so residents or accompanying family members are requested to complete the register (its location will be advised to residents) 
  5. Visitors/family members (a maximum of two per resident, and not under age 18) who wish to enter any of the abovementioned facilities are obligated by DSD to sign the screening form provided, before entering (there have been a few instances of inefficiency regarding access via the CPB/BZB gate, for which we apologize. This has been addressed) 
  6. Rules regarding visiting a resident in his/her room remain unchanged. Visiting times also remain unchanged (10h30 to 12h00 and 14h30 to 16h00, Monday to Sunday} 
  7. The DSD Guidelines mentioned above state “The resident’s right to decline a visitor should be respected” (eg. an unvaccinated person). Please bear this in mind 
  8. It is strongly recommended by DSD and by MHA that residents going out should, as far as humanly possible, not be exposed to shopping malls, other indoor public spaces, large gatherings or public transport, but rather be confined to private homes, large outdoor spaces and private transport 
  9. The DSD Guidelines emphasize that if, during the period away, a resident gets accidentally exposed to anyone where there is a real or perceived risk of infection and the resident gets to be alerted to this, MHA (the Matron or senior person on duty) must be immediately informed, and before the resident returns to the facility 
  10. The MHA bus facility, used for transport to/from shopping centres etc, remains suspended until driver Mike returns from leave in early November 
  11. Regarding MHA now allowing residents to leave their place of residence (per 1. and 2. above), trust must be the foundation for moving forward 
  12. If this new relaxation of some rules regarding leaving the facilities results in Covid infections, we will have no choice other than to return to ‘locked in’ mode immediately, until the threat is managed. If these new steps prove successful (we hope and pray that they will), CovidCom will consider steps to further relax the rules and regulations, as we move to the desperately desired ‘new beginning’. 


 One dictionary provides some interesting definitions of the phrase ‘being in limbo’. The definitions are: 

a place or state of oblivion to which persons or things are 

regarded as being relegated when cast aside, forgotten, past, or out of date an intermediate, transitional, or midway state or place 

a place or state of imprisonment or confinement or, to get really serious, a region on the border of hell or heaven, 

serving as the abode after death of unbaptized infants and of the righteous who died before the coming of Christ. 

Following the President’s announcement last night that we are into Lockdown Level 1 as of today, we could easily just shrug our shoulders and mutter ‘same old, same old’ or, somewhat cynically, anticipate that CovidCom might dish up some scraps to gradually get us to the ‘new normal’ destination. This is not the truth! 

CovidCom met this morning, which we were planning to do irrespective of when the next announcement by the President was going to be made, or its outcome. Infection levels in our City and across the country continue to decline, and MHA needs to keep doing what we have been doing since March last year, namely reviewing our battle plans, strategies and tactics, to keep us ahead of the deadly pandemic. CovidCom firmly believes that we are not in limbo, but that we are moving forward, while keeping a balanced approach. Change is inevitable, but timing is critical. 

Our Villages have largely returned to the ‘new normal’ way of life, but our two Frail Care units and our Bedsitter unit have been occupying the minds of CovidCom’s members on a daily (and nightly!) basis. So many of the words contained in the definition of ‘limbo’, quoted above, could be applied to the current situation facing residents in our Frail Cares and Bedsitters, but the reality is, in the context of the MHA family, they are the ones most at risk of contracting, and dying from, the virus. After a lot of vigorous debate, some bold decisions were made in this morning’s CovidCom meeting, and these are laid out on page 2 of this Newsflash. 

The changes come with words of caution: we all need to remain vigilant, careful and cautious, always watching out for one another. COVID-19 is still active across the world. People are still dying from it; just yesterday alone over 8600 people worldwide died from Covid (to put that into perspective, over the past 15 years only 7400 people in total died in commercial airline accidents). Please be careful. 

The following are the changes agreed by CovidCom at the 1 October 2021 meeting: 


  • moving to Lockdown Level 1 presents us with an opportunity to make changes. However, these changes will have to be altered if South Africa’s infection levels increase, or if Covid enters any of our facilities, or if the MHA rule relaxations are abused 
  • visitors into these three facilities will be allowed, as from tomorrow (Saturday 2 October 2021), on the following basis: 
  • a maximum of two visitors at a time per resident will be allowed to visit 
    • no children under the age of 18 will be allowed 
    • no appointments need to be made 
    • each visitor will be required to sign a register upon arrival at the CPB/BZB entrance gate, and have his/her temperature recorded 
    • any person who is presenting any cold-like or flu-like symptoms should not visit a resident 
    • visits can take place between 10h30 and 12h00, and between 14h30 and 16h00 daily, Monday to Sunday 
    • visitors and residents are earnestly requested to abide by the above, and to co-operate, in particular adherence to visiting hours. In order to manage the arrangements, our Matrons will not be able to accommodate any flexibility 
  • residents will still not be allowed to leave the facilities other than to attend an appointment made (eg. doctor/dentist etc), in which event isolation is not required on return 
  • these new arrangements will be put to the test during the next two weeks, and will be reviewed by CovidCom at its next meeting on Friay 15 October 2021 


No further changes need to be made, following last night’s announcement regarding Level 1. However, the following clarification is provided: 

  • some confusing reference was made in a couple of end-September Village newsletter about the halls still not being available for teas etc, for example after a croquet match. This is incorrect. The halls are again open for any pre-Covid function, other than residents and visitors need to adhere to Government’s rules applicable to Level 1, which include not exceeding 50% of a venue’s capacity, wearing a mask when practical to do so, and maintaining a safe distance 
  • some residents have queried the rules around wearing of masks. Government’s rules (with which we must always comply) are clear on the matter: you have to wear a mask over your nose and mouth when you are in a public space (basically this means any space where you encounter another person). The best ‘rule of thumb’ for this is to regard any place other than your own cottage as a public space; in effect, when you leave your cottage, wear your mask! 
  • There are still some Village folk who remain unsure about what is allowed/not allowed regarding gathering or visiting within your Village. You re free to visit your neighbour’s cottage, have a large or small social gathering like a braai, meet in the hall, go to the library, and generally to do what you did pre-Covid. You just have to obey safety/health rules and regulations; see above 

Look after yourselves and look out for your neighbour. 

Malcolm Stewart 

CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 



 On Monday CovidCom met once again. It was our twenty fourth formal meeting held since March last year; yet another meeting where the war against Covid was discussed in detail; where the physical, mental and emotional health and welfare of residents and staff was reviewed; where decisions were taken, after much deliberating, on what MHA should or shouldn’t be doing or changing, as we as the MHA community continue to do battle with Covid and within ourselves; where CovidCom’s members continue to wrestle with the huge responsibility of making the right decisions affecting almost 700 residents and staff and the entire connected MHA family; and where the content of the next Newsflash was agreed, and formal minutes of the meeting issued. 

There have been times during the past eighteen months when CovidCom have felt that they were carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders; making tough and often unpopular decisions which were all aimed at one goal: saving lives. We are reminded of something written by Madiba: “In our language there is a saying, Ndiwelimilambo enamagama – I have crossed famous rivers. It means that one has travelled and, in the process, gained much experience” He then went on to write: “We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road.” 

All of us---CovidCom, the Board and Management team, residents and staff and their families and friends, our business partners and service providers---must continue to take steps, step by step, big or small, on the long and difficult road ahead. We should continue to trust in God for His guidance and protection, and we must never underestimate the courage, resilience and spirit of community that has carried us though the Covid war, thus far. 

At CovidCom’s meeting on 13 September 2021 the following was agreed, and which will be effective from Monday 20 September 2021: 

  • All Village halls, which re-opened on 12 August 2021, will now be able to operate as they did pre-Covid, with the only exception being that Government’s current rulings regarding capacity, safe distancing and wearing of masks must still be adhered to (refer to your Manager for guidance, if necessary). Access by ‘outsiders’ such as ministers, gym/dance instructors and the like will be permitted without restriction, as would any other visitors 
  • Regrettably, our Frail Care and Bedsitter residents will remain ‘locked in’ for a while longer. This continues to be CovidCom’s most challenging dilemma, but infection rates across the City are still cause for great concern. If we open up these facilities to visitors there will be a stream of traffic, as happened when we briefly re-opened a few months ago, and the risks are just too great to manage at this stage. One bit of good news for Frail Care and Bedsitter residents is that church services will be resumed. Details of the arrangements being made will be announced shortly 
  • Still on the subject of Frail Care and Bedsitter residents, CovidCom deliberated over the continued need for an isolation period after a resident goes to a medical facility (GP, dentist, hospital, clinic etc). It was decided that the need to isolate or not, on return, will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis by Matrons Marx or Windell, and you are urged to discuss your plans in advance, so that ‘safety first’ decisions can be agreed upon 
  • The visitor corners/kuierhoekies at CP Bradfield Frail Care/Bob Zeiss Bedsitters and Maranatha Frail Care remain popular, but some instance of abuse of the rules continues. Residents and visitors are urged to comply (eg. respecting the barrier in place, no physical contact between resident and visitor) 
  • Hairdresser services for CP Bradfield and Bob Zeiss Bedsitter residents will be resumed. Matron Marx will provide more detail to residents shortly. 

All residents are again reminded that having been vaccinated does NOT make one bullet-proof. You can STILL catch the Covid virus (but it is extremely unlikely that you will require hospitalization or ventilation, or that you will die). Equally important is the fact that you can STILL become infected and pass the virus onto others. For these reasons it is so important to continue to be careful and cautious in your everyday behaviours; where you go, who you interact with at close quarters, compliance with the safety rules around sanitizing, wearing masks and social distancing. You all know this stuff! 


In the last Newsflash is was stated that in the next edition (this one) CovidCom would offer some supportive comments on vaccination. We aren’t going to do that! 

Across the country and across the world the debates around vaccination get noisier every day (punish or prejudice those who aren’t vaccinated, make it mandatory, refuse entry to pubs, restaurants, schools, universities, sporting events, airports etc unless you have been jabbed and carry a ‘vaccination passport’). 

Add to the mix the noise made via social media; their anti-vaccine content is usually about the negative effects of vaccines, but is rarely created by health care professionals. They can create fear in their audience and yet almost a quarter of anti-vaccine social media content contains conspiracy theories. 

This is why CovidCom won’t be adding any fuel to the fire. MHA is in an almost unique position because virtually all residents and staff elected to be vaccinated, helping hugely in creating a protective barrier around our various residential facilities. This, together with the responsible behaviour of the MHA family, is primarily why our infection rate remains almost zero. 

Complacency could be our undoing, though, so let us continue to look after ourselves, and others, until this war is over. 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 


Yes, CovidCom (and Government) has been cautious and careful in imposing rules and regulations since March 2020, and we will continue on that trajectory for as long as the Covid monster is amongst us. Everything that CovidCom has decided on, and implemented, has been done with one single goal in mind: to save lives. Yes, there is a price to pay for doing that. We must not allow ourselves to change that trajectory, or bend the rules imposed by Government, based on sentiment or frustration or anger; we need to continue to do all that we can to move the MHA family to the ‘new normal’ based on the reality of what is happening in our Metro, Province and country, Covid-wise. This is not an easy task, but we continue to receive almost universal support and co-operation. We are so grateful for that, and it also makes a huge difference to our staff, in the execution of their duties. 

CovidCom met yesterday, and we unanimously agreed to the following: 

 All Village halls will re-open on Thursday 12 August 2021, subject to: 

  • Access to the halls is restricted to residents and staff only, but ‘outsiders’ such as ministers, gym/dance instructors and the like will be permitted, and those visitors will require pre-authorization by the Village Manager 
  • Government rules and regulations regarding social gatherings of any nature must be strictly adhered to (quote” “limited to 50 persons or less for indoor venues. If the venue is too small to hold the prescribed number of persons observing a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other, then not more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue may be used, subject to strict adherence to all health protocols and social distancing measures”) 

 The visitor corners/kuierhoekies at CP Bradfield Frail Care/Bob Zeiss Bedsitters and Maranatha Frail Care are being reinstated, effective Thursday 12 August 2021, for visits on weekdays and over the weekend. Anyone wishing to make use of these facilities must please: 

  • Observe the rules previously imposed to protect our residents, namely respecting the barrier in place, so that there is no physical contact between resident and visitor (as hard and distressing as that is) 
  • Note that visits are strictly by appointment; between 08h00 and 13h00 on weekdays phone Roslyn Rose for CPB/BZB on 081 5167566, and for MFC phone 041 3652233 

 Hairdresser services, where previously provided, are still under review 

 The MHA bus will again be available to Village residents for transport to/from shopping malls. Village Managers will inform residents of arrangements in this regard. 

Regrettably CovidCom has decided that residents in Bob Zeiss Bedsitters and Epworth Close should remain ‘locked in’ for a while longer, as we continue to monitor infection rates across the Metro. We are acutely aware of the significant hardships and personal sacrifices which result from this situation, but we ask for your continued co-operation and courage. We will review this every day, as we continue to pray for your safety and for the strength you display in coping with these extraordinary circumstances.



South Africa has endured the so-called Third Wave in the midst of a cold and wet winter, when the poorest of the poor suffer most. The Coronavirus doesn’t register this; it attacks young and old, rich and poor, in sunshine and in rain, day or night. The death toll rise in RSA over the past year makes grim reading: 

August 2020         11,000 
November 2020    20,000 
February 2021      47,000 
May 2021              55,000 
August 2021         75,000 

As at 10 August 2021 2.5 million Covid cases were recorded in South Africa, with 75,000+ deaths. Worldwide there have been 204 million cases, with 4.3 million deaths. Let’s not ignore two irrefutable facts: COVID-19 is a pandemic of epic proportions, and it is nowhere near over yet. There are scientific, informed and uninformed conversations going on across the world about a Fourth Wave, another variant, even more variants, even more waves. Humankind has been blessed with vaccines and medicines to fight past and present pandemics (polio, measles, HIV/AIDS, influenza, Ebola, and now Covid). 

What can we rationally do to continue dealing with this Covid pandemic? 

1. Filter what you read and watch, and who you listen to 

2. Don’t waste time worrying about what is beyond your control 

3. Invest time (as you have been doing) in minimizing or eliminating the Covid risks which abound 

4. Fervently believe that this pandemic will be defeated, and that a new dawn will break 

5. As a community, continue to support one another, and move forward with courage 

This is how wars are won!! 


We are most grateful to Matron Sanet Marx and her team for establishing vaccination sites across MHA’s facilities, and for vaccinating those residents who wished to receive the vaccine and who had not done so offsite at Dischem, Clicks, hospitals etc. Staff have also been vaccinated. 

Some staff and residents have not been vaccinated, either through vaccine hesitancy, for religious or medical reasons, or for other personal reasons. The MHA Board, Management and CovidCom earnestly request vaccinated residents and staff to respect the decisions made by those who have not been vaccinated. This is a time for showing support, not for pointing fingers, ostracizing or launching verbal attacks. 

This is a vast and complex subject (just watch CNN for five minutes!), and CovidCom will offer some supportive comments in the next Newsflash. 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 



Remember this type of ‘warning’ sign from around mid-2020? It feels like a lifetime ago! At that time it seemed sufficient to practice the three disciplines listed on posters like this, and preached by anyone and everyone. It worked for a time, but then two things happened: firstly, the Coronavirus mutated into different strains, each one nastier than the first, and then secondly, as Lockdown dragged on and on and on, ‘pandemic fatigue’ crept in, leading to a deadly cocktail of apathy, disobedience, denial or, worst of all, a mindset of ‘If I get it, I get it’ or ‘I don’t believe in this Covid nonsense anymore’. 

General Charles de Gaulle once famously said: “France has lost a battle. But France has not lost the war”. Maybe, in the MHA context, we are heading in that direction? Some of our residents have been infected with Covid after exposure to others in social environments, and all too many residents are mixing in groups. A defence heard frequently, inside and outside of the MHA family, are comments like “It’s okay; I am only getting together with family” or “I know those people; they’re being careful, just like we are” or “I only hug my grandchildren; they’re safe”. PLEASE, dear MHA family members, DON’T fall into these traps. Children come home from playschool or school, carrying the virus, and this gets passed on to parents, grandparents, and others. Even if you have been vaccinated, you can still catch the virus and pass it onto others. This situation is likely to continue for a very long time to come. We have lost some battles, but we will win the war. It is up to all of us to contribute, and our behaviour over the next few months (especially now, in winter) will dictate what casualties will result. 

Last Saturday AlgoaFM News reported that on Friday there had been 24,000 new infections across RSA (the highest ever), 300 new deaths bringing the death toll to 61,500, and there were 180,000 active cases of Covid. As of yesterday, the death toll had risen to over 62,000, and the 7-day average new daily infection rate was 19,000. In our Metro all the hospitals are full of Covid patients, the ICU’s are full, and theatres are only dealing with emergency cases. 

The situation is dire. Six months ago all of us probably knew of at least one person who had been tested positive for Covid; today most of us know people, by name, who have died from Covid, or who are on a ventilator, fighting for oxygen and life. 

In the heading of this Newsflash we ask the question: Are we all doing enough? The MHA Board, the Management team and CovidCom plead with residents and staff to: 

  • avoid social contact as much as you can; stay apart now so that we can be together again when it is safe 
  • continue with the disciplines shown in the poster above---they are still the most effective defence 
  • if you have decided not to be vaccinated, please reconsider (we acknowledge some have valid reasons) 
  • leave the safety of your cottage or apartment/room as seldom as possible (it is your only ‘safe place’) 
  • visit shops and retail malls as seldom as possible 
  • hang in there! We have all come so far (as a nation and within MHA), so we cannot give up or give in now. 

With the current increase in infections within our Villages, we want to remind residents in our ‘independent living’ Villages of what has been spelt out in previous communiques, and what should happen if you have flu-like symptoms which might be Covid-related: 

1. inform your Manager (by phone; do not go to his/her office or cottage) 
2. remain in your cottage; in effect, self-isolate 
3. do NOT go to the shops to stock up, and cancel upcoming appointments and commitments 
4. monitor your symptoms and health, and seek the assistance of your GP if they get worse 
5. in an emergency, press your panic button and wait for the assistance of Atlas and Gardmed. 

It is important for us to emphasize here that residents in our Villages should each have a contingency plan of action if you develop Covid-like symptoms. It is NOT the responsibility of MHA to deal with this, on your behalf. MHA has frail care facilities which are occupied (and full) by residents requiring ongoing care and attention because of their frailty, but we do not have hospital-type facilities which can deal with physical emergencies and the provision of ventilators and the like. The Village Managers will continue to offer support and assistance as they have been doing when an emergency occurs (and not just Covid-related), but they are not skilled to provide any form of medical intervention. This is why MHA has contracted with Atlas who have Gardmed as their preferred service provider, to provide that level of ‘first responder’ intervention and ambulance service. 

Regarding the Atlas/Gardmed service, we must inform you that there could be long delays for an ambulance to arrive if your panic button is activated. Ambulances currently wait up to 5 hours at hospitals to have a patient admitted – this is NOT due to bad service from Atlas (they will still attend to a call-out, however they will not enter a cottage if a person is Covid+). 

If any Village resident has any questions or queries about what has been dealt with above, please do not hesitate to refer this to your Manager who, if necessary, will elevate the issue to the CEO or Nursing Services Manager. 



MHA is now registered as a vaccination site for our own residents and staff. MHA can now administer all vaccines, and our Nursing Services Manager will be going to all the Villages on the date of the second dose. We are no longer dependent on the Department of Health for this. Even if you received your first jab at Clicks or Dischem or at a hospital/clinic, you can now receive the second jab at the Village where you live. If you had your first jab elsewhere, please inform your Manager (at least 7 days before the date shown below) that you wish to receive your second jab at your Village. Vaccination dates are as follows: 

14 July: Epworth Close              16 July: Frail Care staff 
27 July: Cassia Gardens            30 July: Aldersgate, Wesley Gardens and Maranatha Village 
02 August: Irvine Villa                04 August: Annesley Gardens/Sheariton 

This represents a major step in getting all residents and staff vaccinated within the next month. Individually and as a community, let us do all that we can to stay safe and well until then. We have come so far. Let’s get this done!!! 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 



President Ramaphosa addressed the nation last night, and most of the bad news he shared did not come as a surprise to those citizens who understand the severity of the Covid-19 virus, the deadly impact of the so-called Third Wave, and what needs to be done to prevent the spreading of the virus. Sadly, a vast number of the population throughout the country either remain unaware of what is going on, or have decided to ignore laws and what is being told to them. This is largely why we are where we are today. 

CovidCom has done everything humanly possible since March 2020 to keep the Covid monster from our doors, and our success in this regard can be attributed to a mixture of being proactive, being in possession of relevant facts and data, making bold decisions, and receiving the support and co-operation of virtually every resident and staff member. It has undoubtedly been a massive team effort which has got us through the war, so far. This said, several MHA residents are currently infected with the virus, some seriously so. 

In the light of the advancing Third Wave, and the Lockdown Level 4 changes which came into effect this morning, CovidCom met today, and have made the following decisions, all of which come into effect immediately, and which will remain in place at least until the President addresses the nation again on Sunday 11 July 2021: 

  1. NO VISITORS will be allowed into any of our Villages 
  2. As is currently the case, no visitors are allowed into CP Bradfield, Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, Maranatha Frail Care or Epworth Close, but this is now extended to no visitors being allowed at the gates or fences of these four facilities 
  3. Domestic staff, whether privately employed or part of the outsourced service, will not be allowed into the Villages. Domestic staff employed by MHA to work in our Frail Cares etc. will continue to report for duty 
  4. Privately employed gardeners will not be allowed into the Villages. MHA’s gardening staff, who tend our common areas, will continue to report for duty 
  5. MHA’s Maintenance staff will continue to work on painting and refurbishment projects, and will attend to any emergency maintenance issue (please report those to your Manager). Residents who require emergency maintenance services for privately owned assets (e.g. appliances) may make the own arrangements, as is currently the case. 

CovidCom is acutely aware that the decisions taken will be unpopular in some quarters, but the safety of our residents and staff is of paramount importance. Within our city and across the country, Covid-related deaths are escalating at a frightening pace, and the actions taken by CovidCom today are in response to that. We ask each and every one of you to co-operate and comply. Let us all play our part in trying to keep the Lockdown 4 hardships down to a fortnight, and not for an indefinite period, as happened last year. 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman 
(and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 


On 7 June 2021 the Eastern Cape Premier Lubabalo Mabuyane declared Nelson Mandela Bay a Covid-19 High-Risk Zone. He told the media that: 

  • A cross-functional team would be deployed to the Metro in order to strengthen the enforcement of level 2 measures 
  • In the latest 24 hour reporting period, there had been one fatality and 44 new Covid cases in the Eastern Cape, bringing the death toll in the province to 11 673 
  • There had been a 59.6 % increase in active Covid cases in the past seven days 
  • The SA Modelling Consortium estimates that the 3rd wave can be expected from between the 14th of June and the 17th of July onwards, but that it will likely be lower than the second wave. 

We cannot ignore the facts: we have recently had two Covid infections within MHA, we are aware of 17 positive infections in another Frail Care facility in the City, and a number of residents’ family members are becoming infected. It would be negligent of CovidCom to turn a blind eye to these facts. As we have done successfully over the past fourteen months, we need to be aware of what is happening around us, what the warning signals are, and then to be proactive in our response to any increase in Covid risk. 

CovidCom met yesterday, and the following decisions were taken, and which will come into effect from Friday 11 June 2021: 

1. The visitor corner/kuierhoekie at CP Bradfield/Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close will be removed until further notice (these are high-risk areas, but have also been subject to some serious abuse and non-compliance by visitors) 

2. Visiting residents at the gate and fence at CP Bradfield and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters will still be permitted, but with additional measures implemented in order to ensure safe distancing (here too there are increasing instances of non-compliance by visitors and residents alike) 

3. The safety screen over the main pedestrian gate at Maranatha Frail Care will remain in place, but with additional measures implemented 

4. The hairdressing salons which serves CP Bradfield/Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close will close until further notice 

CovidCom regrets having to make these decisions, which we know cause frustration, confusion and hardship to many. The safety of our residents and staff is always paramount, and we have to continue to be proactive, relying on the best information available to us. 2 | P a g e 

Other matters discussed at the meeting were: 

1. Domestic services at cottages in our Villages will not be affected at this point in time. We do, however, urge our cottage residents to continue to be vigilant, to watch out for tell-tale signs such as coughing or sneezing, and for residents and cleaning staff alike to wear a mask and practice safe distancing and sanitizing at all times. The staff of the contracted cleaning service will have their temperature taken by their supervisor at commencement of each shift 

2. As you know only too well, there remains a lot of inefficiency, confusion and misinformation around the national vaccination process. When there is more clarity we will inform all residents and staff, but for now we share the following: 

i. If you receive an SMS and voucher informing you of your appointment for being vaccinated, our advice is that you go to the venue at the appointed day/time, and get vaccinated 

ii. MHA is in the process of being registered as a vaccination site. There is still no indication of when that might happen, but when it does happen we will be able to vaccinate residents and staff on site, at all of our facilities 

iii. PLEASE bear in mind that, even if you have been vaccinated, you can still spread the Covid virus to others. Also, you can still be infected with the virus and become sick. Please continue to wear a mask whenever you go out, and practice safe distancing. 

Since the outbreak of the Covid-10 pandemic in early 2020 over 57000 fellow South Africans have died from the deadly virus, and deaths worldwide were at 3.76 million as of yesterday. Even so, millions are still not taking the virus seriously enough, or at all. We must continue to protect ourselves and others by doing what we need to do----you don’t need reminding! 

Malcolm Stewart (who waits patiently to be summoned to receive his jab!!) 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 



 As we have been doing since mid-March 2020, CovidCom continues to keep abreast of what the Coronavirus is doing locally, nationally and globally. We continue to try to make proactive decisions, based on the best information at our disposal. It is not an easy task, but so far the decisions made have mainly been the right ones; the infection and recovery rates within MHA provide a useful yardstick, in this regard. 

Three issues have been occupying CovidCom in the past couple of weeks: 

  1. The so-called ‘third wave’ has hit most countries, to a greater or lesser extent; currently India is a nightmare, whereas the UK, Spain and Germany are beginning to relax their Lockdown laws, and over 40000 Australians attended a major rugby match over the weekend. South Africa is expecting a third wave to hit during the next few weeks, and infection rates are climbing in some areas (not our Metro, at present, based on numbers reported). The advent of winter will increase the risk, and recent Mothers’ Day gatherings are a cause for concern 
  2. Far more family and friends than anticipated have visited residents in CP Bradfield Frail Care, Maranatha Frail Care, Bob Zeiss Bedsitters and Epworth Close, but the worrying aspect of that is the high level of non-compliance by visitors with Government’s laws regarding the wearing of masks while on MHA premises; some have even been quite aggressive in their attitude to this. This places residents and staff at increased risk, and could potentially undo all the good which has been achieved over the past fourteen months 
  3. Some residents have gone out for the day, or longer, and have been in large social gatherings while out; many seemed oblivious to the risks associated with that. 

CovidCom met yesterday, to discuss what we should be doing in anticipation of the third wave potentially hitting our Metro before the end of May. Ever mindful that we need to be cautious and careful and proactive, and taking into account the onerous responsibilities which CovidCom carries, it was decided that the following will come into effect on Monday 17 May 2021, affecting CP Bradfield Frail Care (CPB), Maranatha Frail Care (MFC), Bob Zeiss Bedsitters (BZB) and Epworth Close (EC): 

  1. These facilities must go back to a ‘locked in’ status. This effectively means that visitors will not be able to enter the facilities other than to make use of the visitor corners/kuierhoekies, or the perimeter fences and gates (see below for more information on this), neither will residents be allowed to leave the premises, other than for medical-related matters 
  2. Residents will be required to self-isolate in their room for 7 days when returning from a visit to a medical facility or healthcare service provider 
  3. The access gate between Cassia Gardens and CPB/BZB will again be locked 
  4. The hairdresser servicing Epworth Close, CPB and BZB will be allowed to continue, but residents of Cassia Gardens will again not be allowed to make use of the service offered in the BZB salon 
  5. The visitor corner/kuierhoekie facility at CPB and BZB and at MFC will be reinstated. The protocols previously in place, regarding sanitizing, wearing of masks and no physical contact will, sadly, also need to be reinstated there, and at the fences/gates 

These were not easy decisions to make. CovidCom will continue to monitor the behaviour of the virus and its variants on a daily basis, and the rules and regulations which have been re-introduced will be reviewed on at least a weekly basis. Our priority is, and has always been, to safeguard the lives of our residents and staff. We therefore ask all in the MHA family to please co-operate and comply, as we move into yet more uncertain times. 

CovidCom would also like to share the following with you: 

  • While the decisions taken to revert to a ‘locked in’ position at CPB, MFC, BZB and EC don’t directly affect our Village residents (apart from suspending the visiting of loved ones there), it is important to highlight the need for all Village residents and their visitors to continue to be vigilant, to wear a mask properly covering both mouth and nose whenever in a public place (basically, anywhere outside of your cottage), and to sanitize hands as frequently as possible. There is an alarming increase across the Metro and the country in non-compliance with these basic requirements (viz. the law of the land). It has been proven over the past year and more that these basic safety precautions save lives. 

        Use your head---don’t spread!!! 

  •  Vaccination: 
    • This subject is on everyone’s mind right now. Should I have it? When will I get it? Where will I have to go? What product will I receive? What do I have to do? What is the chance it will kill me? 
    • MHA Management have been hard at work, behind the scenes, making sure that our frail residents are registered on the Department of Health database, and that all of our staff (especially our frontline nursing/caring staff) are registered and ready for vaccination 
    • For those residents who live independently, and can easily attend to their own affairs, it is strongly recommended that you register on the Department of Health database. It takes two minutes to do; if you need help with that, ask a neighbour or your Manager. By registering, you get into the queue; you are not obliged to be vaccinated when your name comes up on the list, if that is your personal choice. If you don’t register, but decide later on that you want to be vaccinated (for example, you may wish to fly overseas), you can expect to be at the back of the queue. Don’t let that happen to you! 
    • CovidCom will continue to keep residents updated regarding progress made with our ongoing dealings with the Department of Health and the Department of Social Development 

  • Today is International Nurses Day; it has been observed on May 12 every year since 1965, to honour nurses. May 12 was chosen to celebrate the day as it is the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. 

    Please take a moment today to reflect on the wonderful work that nurses have done, across the world, during this pandemic. Let us give thanks for the dedication and skill of the nursing and caring staff within MHA. Let us also remember, with gratitude, the nursing care that we, or a loved one, may have personally received during an illness or a medical procedure. 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us to remain cautious and careful---and to live in HOPE!) 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 



South Africans have been in various stages and forms of Lockdown for 385 days. It is almost impossible to absorb this fact; never in our wildest dreams would we have envisaged such a global phenomenon or nightmare. The drama continues. Will we be hit by another wave? Is the worst over? When will I receive my vaccination? When can we get back to some sort of usual routine in our lives? 

CovidCom has been wrestling with these and other issues on a regular basis, and have been closely monitoring the Covid landscape, locally and globally, and reviewing our defences and battle plans. 

CovidCom met yesterday. Within MHA we have had no Covid infections since December (residents or staff), and we remain convinced that we can attribute this to careful planning and execution, to our hygiene protocols and practices, to the level of compliance by all staff, and the actions and co-operative attitude of our residents and their families. We are also convinced that God has protected us throughout this nightmare. 

Against this background, CovidCom decided at yesterday’s meeting that the time has come to make some bold and far-reaching decisions, which we believe will be generally accepted and appreciated by residents across all of our facilities. We summarize the decisions as follows: 

Our Lockdown and Locked-in rules: 

  • As from Monday 19 April 2021 we will open up our CP Bradfield Frail Care, Maranatha Frail Care, Bob Zeiss Bedsitters and Epworth Close to receive visitors, and residents in those facilities will be free to leave, in order to go out for the day or a longer period, to go shopping, to travel, or to enjoy freedom again in any other safe way 
  • Family or friends wishing to visit a Frail Care resident may do so in a resident’s room, or to make use of the lounge or outside spaces and gardens 
  • Family or friends of residents in the four abovementioned facilities are encouraged to assist with taking a resident to a medical facility or a business premises (eg. a bank),as was the practice pre-Covid 
  • There will no longer be a need for a resident to self-isolate on returning from a social visit, or from a medical or business appointment. Regarding a resident returning from a stay in hospital, our Nursing Services Manager will consider, on a case-by-case basis, if a period of isolation is warranted, particularly cases where there has been a prolonged stay in a hospital or similar facility 
  • The gate separating CP Bradfield/Bob Zeiss Bedsitters and Cassia Gardens will re-open (using the code to be provided), so that residents can move freely between those facilities, in order to visit or exercise 
  • Inevitably there are a few ‘rules and regulations’ attached to these new arrangements, and these are: 
    • All visitors must continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing when in a public space. This would apply equally to folk wishing to walk around the Cassia Gardens open spaces 
    • A Declaration form will have to be completed by every visitor on arrival for every visit, and have his/her temperature taken. Hand sanitizing material will be provided, and must be used 
    • A maximum of TWO visitors to a resident at any one time will be permitted (this does not apply to residents in our Villages) 

Blood Pressure clinics: 
These will resume effective Tuesday 20 April 2021, and will be carried out by Matron Sanet Marx. The same roster format as per pre-Covid will be used, and residents will be advised of this shortly. 

Please remember to wear your mask when going to have your BP checked. 

The MHA bus shuttle to shopping centres: 
This service, for residents in our Villages, Bedsitters and Epworth Close, will be re-introduced effective Monday 26 April 2021 (our driver Mike is currently on leave). More details about this will follow. 

There is currently so much coverage and hype in the media about the roll-out of vaccination across SA: how long it is going to take to vaccinate the whole population, what vaccines are safe (rare instances of blood clotting are occurring around the world), how and where to put your name on a register, where you must go to be vaccinated, will the elderly be next in line after the healthcare workers, what will it cost, or what can your medical aid do to speed up the process. Progress is being made daily, but there are clearly logistical and political issues at play. While this is going on, tens of millions of South Africans remain at risk, unnecessarily. Of huge concern to us is that the MHA frontline staff, who work in our two Frail Cares, have still not been vaccinated, even though they were registered for this purpose with the Department of Health over two months’ ago. 

CovidCom is closely monitoring the situation, and maintaining contact with the right agencies, and we will keep you abreast of developments. We are as keen as you are to see the whole MHA family vaccinated as soon as possible. 


CovidCom also wish to share the following with residents, staff, and the extended MHA family: 

  • It is understandable that relaxation of our current Lockdown/Locked-in rules and regulations may generate some resistance. CovidCom made a collective and unanimous decision to open up our facilities once again, and moving forward in this way was based on the best information available locally, nationally and globally. We move forward in faith, but in a measured and responsible way, based on what is happening (or going to happen) elsewhere 
  • The relaxations now being implemented can change overnight, should any of MHA’s facilities encounter a Covid infection, whether it be a staff member or a resident 
  • With this in mind, we all need to continue to be vigilant, compliant, and to behave in the responsible way we have been doing for over a year 
  • Please bear in mind that those MHA residents who have been locked in since March 2020 are going to encounter a strange new world out there, when they go to a shopping mall or bank or coffee shop. They will see sanitizers everywhere, maybe a register to complete, social distancing markers on the floor---and of course they will encounter folk who do not want to shake a hand or receive a hug or kiss, and who will keep at least two metres away, wearing a mask throughout. It will almost be an alien environment, and it is up to staff and family to help residents acclimatize during the process. MHA will also be doing some training and orientation, in this regard. 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us to remain cautious and careful---but be courageous too!) 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 


The following matters were discussed and agreed by CovidCom at a meeting on 3 March 2021: 

1. Village halls: 
With immediate effect, refreshments/food may be served and consumed in the Hall 

2. Hairdressers: 
i. The hairdressing salon serving CP Bradfield and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters will re-open on Monday 8 March 2021 (or as soon as arrangements/protocols have been put in place). This service will still not be available to Cassia Gardens residents.
ii. Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close salons will re-open on Monday 8 March 2021 (or as soon as arrangements/protocols have been put in place). This service will not be available to Maranatha Village residents 
iii. Business will be by appointment only (to avoid a queue/gathering outside the salon) 

3. Visitors into CP Bradfield and Marantaha Frail Care: 
The emotional and extremely difficult matter of visitors being allowed into our Frail Care units was discussed in depth. The risk of allowing this is too great, even if on a 1-on-1 basis, and so still cannot be allowed 

4. Going away from CP Bradfield/Bob Zeiss Bedsitters/Maranatha Frail Care/Epworth Close: 
The present position is that residents in all four facilities are locked in, and have been since late March 2020. Research has shown that the majority of residents in BZB and EC are happy to continue with that for a while yet. After lengthy discussion, and on the basis that CovidCom would still discourage it, it has been decided that residents in these four facilities will be allowed to leave their place of residence to visit family or friends, effective Monday 8 March 2021, but only on the following basis: 

i. Doing so must be at the sole risk of the resident concerned 
ii. Going out must be for a minimum of 10 days 
iii. On return, the resident must self-isolate in his/her room for 7 days 
iv. This arrangement cannot apply to any resident who, in the opinion of CovidCom, would not be able to adequately cope with the difficulties and challenges which self-isolation brings 
v. Prior discussion and arrangements with the Matron or Manager must take place, and consent given 

5. Kuierhoekies/Visiting Corners: 
i. It was agreed that this facility will be re-opened at CP Bradfield, Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close on Monday 8 March 2021, in addition to ‘gate visits’ which should continue, as desired 
ii. A better, more compassionate way of providing this facility is under review 
iii. Protocols and safety precautions are a critical component. Visitors will need to comply with hand sanitizing, wearing of a mask other than when separated by the screen, and that NO physical contact can be allowed, no matter how difficult that is. There has been abuse of this in the past; if it occurs again, it could lead to immediate closure of the visiting facility 
iv. Bookings for MFC must be done through Matron Windell (076 5616669) and for CPB through Ros Rose (081 5167566), only on weekdays between 09h00 and 12h00 
v. This emotional matter is under constant review by CovidCom, which has to maintain a balance between what Government dictates, what MHA puts in place, and what makes common sense. In the end CovidCom will continue to make decisions based on facts 

6. Church services: 
These will commence again at CP Bradfield/Bob Zeiss Bedsitters and at Epworth Close, in the week commencing Monday 8 March 2021 

7. MHA bus: 
It was agreed that it should still not be used for transporting residents to/from a shopping centre 

8. Opening up between CP Bradfield and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters: 
This will again be permitted, effective Monday 8 March 2021, making it possible for CPB residents to use the BZB library and lounge, and to attend church services there. It will also allow for CPB residents to visit BZB residents, and vice versa. 

The changes now agreed upon will impose a huge strain on staff, and create a large admin load. Residents and families are therefore asked to please co-operate and to comply. What has now been opened up is not just about the resident or the family member; it impacts on the whole MHA family. Up to now everyone has been extremely patient and largely compliant, for which CovidCom is most grateful. Please let’s keep that up! 






 This has been a busy week for MHA staff, with Liaison Committee meetings taking up a lot of necessary time. It is also “budget time”, on top of everything else happening day to day. So please forgive CovidCom for only producing a brief and businesslike Newsflash today! 

CovidCom met this morning, as we have done weekly or fortnightly for the past eleven months. Based on available current information, and having heard various opinions about how the country, our Province and our Metro are faring infection-wise, we again reviewed our practices and protocols, and our rules and regulations. CovidCom believe that we should continue to be careful and cautious, as we have been from the outset. We must all be mindful that the country remains in Lockdown Level 3, and that the state of emergency, in terms of the National Disaster Act, continues until 15 March. Through CovidCom, MHA will also continue to analyse our Covid-related risks on a daily basis, and to create a workable balance between what the NDA/Government dictates and what we believe to be in the best interests of our residents and our staff. We hope and pray that CovidCom will continue to make the right decisions in this regard; thus far, our track records says that this is so. 

The following matters were unanimously agreed at today’s meeting: 

  • Village Halls: these will be opened up again, subject to: 
    1. No more than a third of residents per Village can be in the Hall at the same time 
    2. Where there is seating, chairs must be a minimum of 2 metres apart (side and front) 
    3. Normal protocols regarding sanitizing and wearing of masks must apply 
    4. No refreshments/food may be served or consumed in the Hall 
    5. Any event must be sanctioned by the Village Manager 
    6. It is left to the Manager of each Village to announce when their Village Hall will re-open 
  • ‘Kuierhoekies’/visiting corners: 
    1. These facilities were unfortunately closed down when the country went from Lockdown Level 1 to 3 
    2. As much as we want to re-opne them, we will keep these facilities at CP Bradfield and Maranatha Frail Care closed for at least the next fortnight, as we get closer to the review of Lockdown Level 3 
    3. We are reviewing the structure of our ‘kuierhoekie’ facilities; we need to make them secure (unfortunately there were some instances of physical contact), and to make them more user-friendly, MFC in particular 
  • Hairdressing services: 
    1. The salons within Halls at Aldersgate and Annesley Gardens/Sheariton will re-open 
    2. Business will be by appointment only (to avoid a queue/gathering outside the salon) 
    3. The Managers will decide how/when to implement this 
    4. The hairdressers/salons serving CP Bradfield, Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close will not re-open yet (yes, we are acutely aware of the desperation of many) 

  • MHA Bus: Transport to/from shopping centres in the MHA Quantum remains unavailable until further notice 

  • CP Bradfield, Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close: the residents in these four facilities have been locked in since late March last year; they need and deserve our ongoing support and prayers. Unfortunately this restriction must remain in place, but will be reviewed on a frequent basis. Unfortunately too the physical separation of CPB and BZB will remain in place (other than for staff who need to move between the two facilities to do their work). 

Two last Covid-related matters: 

  • A FAQ is: Must I wear my mask when walking in my Village? This is CovidCom’s view: A resident walking in the Village should put on a mask when meeting another resident, so it is best practice for residents to carry their masks with them, and put them on as needed. This would apply when they move around private property (their cottage area or around the Village). Obviously wearing of masks s mandatory whenever/wherever in public 
  • Can a list of ‘what you can do/cannot do’ rules and regulations be repeated in a Newsflash, as some folk seem to forget what is/isn’t allowed: CovidCom’s view on this is that, since March 2020, rules and regulations (Government and MHA) have changed frequently, and continue to do so on a regular basis, and it isn’t easy to summarize what is curently applicable or relevant. It is recommended that when in doubt, ask a neighbour. If that doesn’t work, put on your mask, go outside, and see what happens!! 






CovidCom was formed on 10 March 2020, and the first meeting was convened under the fancy-sounding banner of the Corona Prevention Action Planning Meeting. Those present quickly changed the name of the decision-making group to CovidCom, and that body has been responsible for the planning and execution of MHA’s battle plan against Coronavirus. Including yesterday’s meeting, CovidCom has met officially twelve times, and we have had a great many ad hoc meetings, usually via e-mail and at least weekly, and countless telephone conversations. We have had a single mission: to save lives. We have chosen to ignore the handful of critics and naysayers (one cannot please everyone all of the time), because of the enormity and complexity of the challenges thrown at us on a daily basis, ultimately involving almost 700 people spread across our eleven facilities. 

If CovidCom had the time, its members could stand back and take stock of what has been achieved over the past ten months; what worked, which decisions were flawed, what we could have done differently or better, or how we might have reduced inconvenience. However, that analysis will have to wait for another day, at another time. Right now, CovidCom continues to review its battle plan on a daily basis, so that we are able to adapt to changing circumstances on the ground within MHA, in our Metro and across the country, while remaining within the rules and regulations contained in the Disaster Management Act and its subsequent gazettes. 

In yesterday’s CovidCom meeting, its members reviewed a range of MHA rules and regulations which have been put in place from time to time, all aimed at protecting residents and staff. We can share with you now the outcome of yesterday’s meeting: 


  • Privately-employed domestic housekeepers and gardeners, including businesses providing such services, will be allowed back into our ‘independent living’ Villages, with effect from Wednesday 27 January 2021 
  • MHA will not be providing any screening or monitoring services; it will be the responsibility of each resident who engages with such individuals/service providers to ensure that those who come into a MHA facility: 
    1. Are free of Covid-like symptoms (high temperature, cough, headache etc) 
    2. Move directly from the entrance gate to the cottage concerned, and then exit in the same fashion 
    3. Confine themselves to the cottage(s) where they are engaged to carry out their duties 
    4. Sanitize frequently, using a product provided by the resident 
    5. Wear a face mask at all times 
    6. Practise social distancing 


  • This matter remains under review, and discussions with prospective service providers are ongoing. A decision will be made in the near future, and costing has been catered for in the 2021/22 Budget assumptions 


  • Businesses/individuals whose services are required by residents in order, for example, to carry out repairs or to install a product, may enter MHA premises, and proceed to the cottage involved 
  • It will be the responsibility of the resident involved to ensure that those who come into a MHA facility: 
    1. Are free of Covid-like symptoms (high temperature, cough, headache etc) 
    2. Move directly from the entrance gate to the cottage concerned, and then exit in the same fashion 
    3. Confine themselves to the cottage where they are engaged to carry out their duties 
    4. Sanitize frequently, using a product provided by the resident 
    5. Wear a face mask at all times 
    6. Practise social distancing 
  • MHA will screen and monitor those external contractors who are appointed by MHA to carry out work which is the contractual responsibility of MHA 


  • This still remains under review, and so hairdressers will still not be allowed onto any MHA premises 


  • In compliance with Government’s regulations regarding gatherings, our Village Halls will unfortunately remain closed, until further notice. As announced on 13 January, libraries are open for business 


  • Visitors to MHA Village cottages may continue, as per existing arrangements 
  • Unfortunately, visitors to CP Bradfield Frail Care, Maranatha Frail Care, Bob Zeiss Bedsitter and Epworth Close will still not be permitted. CovidCom is acutely aware of the extreme hardships which this Lockout brings to residents, and to their families and friends, and we continue to consider professional interventions in order to address this 


  • We acknowledge the importance of worship, in the lives of our residents, in particular those who are locked in. Regrettably we are still not able to allow church services at any MHA facility, but this is being regularly reviewed, especially in the light of a lower Lockdown Level being announced 


  • Residents in our Frail Care (CPB and MFC) and Bedsitter accommodation (BZB and EC) are required to self-isolate in their room when returning from a visit to a medical facility or healthcare service provider. The period involved must remain at 10 days from the time of return; unfortunately a reduction to seven days cannot be considered 

CovidCom will meet again next week, and a further Newsflash will be issued. Please continue to comply with Government’s and MHA’s rules and regulations; they will save lives, including your own. In particular, please wear your mask whenever you leave your cottage, and this includes when you walk about your Village or other facility. When you leave your front door you step into a public place, and the law requires you to wear a mask. It’s that simple!! 







We’re going through Hell, aren’t we?! This time last year the rumours and stories about a flu-like virus started to filter down to the Southern tip of Africa, and we began to see images of a deserted Wuhan, and people wearing masks. A flood of facts followed. Then on 27 March 2020 Lockdown hit our country. As a nation, and as the MHA community, we spent 36 days locked down at Level 5, then 30 at Level 4, then 78 at Level 3, then 34 at Level 2, and then 99 days at Level 1. That took us to 28 December 2020, by which time we had spent a total of 277 days in some form of Lockdown. But by then the country was in the midst of its ‘second surge’ and so we were moved to an adjusted Level 3 on 29 December, and this is where were are currently (and until 15 February at least, it would seem). We are rapidly approaching the 300 day Lockdown mark! 

CovidCom stated months ago that it would not bombard readers with depressing statistics, but we should be aware of the scale of the pandemic. As of today the total number of recorded Covid cases across the world stands at 90.3 million, with 1.93 million deaths. In South Africa there are 1.23 million recorded cases, with 33163 deaths. A recent statistic which really resonated was that 1 in 10 Americans have been infected. Closer to home, about 1 in 10 MHA residents and staff have tested positive over the past nine months, and we continue to mourn the passing of 7 residents, to date. All of this reminds us that we need to continue to be vigilant and disciplined, and to be community-minded. 

We also need to be positive. It is a mammoth task to do this, but we must keep going, we must have faith that this nightmare will end during the course of 2021, and that we will be able to recover much of what we have lost over the past year. We crave to be reunited with family and friends and to hug them, to return to church, to enjoy a visit to the beachfront or our favourite coffee shop, to have a decent haircut or fancy hair-do, and to take Covid off our ‘worry list’. 

If you are becoming overwhelmed with worry and fear, if you a struggling to cope, or you find yourself wanting to just give up, please chat to your Manager. MHA can provide you with a counselling service, at no cost to you. A listening ear, and words of encouragement, have helped many folk across MHA, especially during these terrible Covid times. 

This is lovely quotation from Alice in Wonderland: “When you can’t look at the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark”. 

Keep going. You are not alone.

Do you remember this epic 1966 Spaghetti Western film (so-called because it was written and produced by Italians!)? It featured Clint Eastwood, and is credited with having catapulted him into stardom. He turned 90 last year, and is still a ‘film star’! 

CovidCom didn’t disappear over the festive season, although some members took some time off, to be with family, and to re-charge batteries. We continue to review our position and our protocols on a daily basis, and we can bring you up to date with some Covid-related matters, as follows: 

THE GOOD: CovidCom and the Managers have unanimously agreed that Village libraries can now re-open. We know that this will be greeted with great joy by the scores of bibliofiles within MHA. Your Manager will inform you about how and when this will happen. We want to keep it as uncomplicated as possible, and you don’t need to be reminded about the hygiene and safety protocols involved! We thank you for your patience and understanding over these past months when the libraries had to remain closed. 

THE BAD: Regrettably CovidCom believes that it remains in the best interests of all residents that privately employed Housekeepers and Gardeners, and cleaning/gardening service providers, remain away from our Villages, at least until there is a significant reduction in the infection rate associated with the second surge. We are acutely aware of the hardship and inconvenience which this brings to residents. Similarly, hairdressing services will remain suspended, until further notice. 

THE UGLY: CovidCom members are committed to dealing with issues before they become ugly!!! So far, so good---mainly! 
Sadly, politicians and leaders have the knack of distorting the truth to suit their own agendas. The media is full of this, on a daily basis, and Covid-19 has been a fertile breeding ground. This then leads to so many rumours, conspiracy theories and reckless statements flying around on a daily basis: Will South Africans even get an effective vaccine in 2021? Does the vetinerary product Invermectin combat Covid (or even Old Brown Sherry!)? Our Chief Justice appeared on video, praying that God should destroy any vaccine that ‘could be infused with the mark of the devil’. 

Against this background we have a President who still remains calm, speaks to the people, and is trying his level best to balance between saving lives (Lockdown rules and regulations) with saving the economy. He needs our ongoing support. 


Let us end this Newsflash on a positive note, by giving heartfelt thanks to the following: 

  • Those residents who made the extremely difficult choice and sacrifice over the Christmas period to remain at home, rather than venture out and celebrate with family and friends 
  • Our Staff, who continue to execute their duties with professionalism, care and love, and especially those who worked diligently over the festive season 
  • Our Bob Zeiss Bedsitter, Epworth Close, CP Bradfield Frail Care and Maranatha Frail Care residents, who have remained locked in since March. Their courage continues to be inspirational 
  • Every resident who has to continue doing without a housekeeping or gardening service. In order to protect yourselves and others, it is a sacrifice which just has to be made, at present. Thank you! 
  • The Liaison Committee members who are doing wonderful work to lighten the load of the Managers and, in some instances, deputizing on an ad hoc basis 
  • Everyone who has made an effort to look out for his/her neighbour, providing comfort and support in these dark times 


The theme of this Newsflash seems to be aptly captured in these words from scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NIV): 

"And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone." 




 MHA’s core business can be summarized as the provision of a range of facilities and services for retired people, and which must be affordable, well managed, and safe. The arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic presented the MHA Board and Management with yet another challenge requiring their focus and leadership. It also presented staff with many unique challenges, requiring new skills and huge courage. All of this continues. 

Since CovidCom was formed in early March to manage MHA’s approach to Covid-19, its members have met frequently and have had to make scores of bold decisions, some unpopular, but all aimed at achieving one specific purpose: saving lives. A lot has been written about this, and so the MHA family is aware of what has been put in place, and achieved. 

Today CovidCom wishes to share with you how we are approaching the latest, and potentially the most destructive, dilemma to come our way over the past nine months; it’s the subject of ‘Christmas absence’. Some residents in our Assisted Living and Frail Care facilities have indicated that they wish to be with family over the Christmas period; these requests range from one day away to a month away. In this regard we wish to share the following with you: 

  • The reasons why family want to be together over Christmas is clearly understood, but even more so in these times of uncertainty, fear, loss and loneliness. Christmas is traditionally the season when families should be together 
  • Christmas 2020 is going to be a lot different for people across the world. Many embrace and understand this, and that it has to be a season of sacrifice. Many remain adamant that it should be ‘Christmas as usual’; going to church, having family and friends over for dinner, hugging and kissing and exchanging gifts, and just celebrating as it was ‘in the good old days’ 
  • Globally there is a ‘second surge’, and in many countries it is worse than the first. As of Wednesday, South Africa is officially in its second wave. Maybe we are only about half-way through this terrible war? 
  • Government, as well as CovidCom, need to observe what patterns are emerging elsewhere, what we can learn from those, and what steps we need to consider in order to save lives. We are doing this daily 
  • A lot has been written and spoken about ‘super-spreader events’ and ‘accelerator events’. These are events which take place in defiance of laws or logic (or both), and result in a significant spike in Covid infections. In effect, they have the potential to create a surge on top of a surge. Examples abound, globally; and then we read of the infections, the hospitalizations, the deaths, the blaming, which follow 
  • Those who have to make decisions, around behaviours which will mitigate the infection rate, observe what is happening elsewhere. CovidCom generally does this, before making decisions. The current area of intense focus has to do with Thanksgiving Day in the USA, which took place on Thursday 26 November 2020; the celebrations carried over into the weekend which followed. Tens of millions of American citizens defied the call to remain at home, and avoid travelling; instead, family gatherings and widespread travelling took place over that long weekend, a fortnight ago. It has become painfully clear that the USA is only now beginning to feel the brunt of the Thanksgiving Day indiscretions; it generally takes 2 to 2 ½ weeks from an event to develop into a surge. The USA is approaching the eye of that hurricane----and then will come the inevitable Christmas events (shopping, travelling, gatherings, parties), and another resulting surge. Potentially this madness is unfolding before us right now 
  • CovidCom is not being persuaded in any particular direction simply based on the Thanksgiving Day surge (many other examples exist across SA and the world), but it has certainly informed us regarding what approach MHA should adopt with regard to the ‘Christmas absence’ dilemma facing us. This is what CovidCom has decided as far as residents in CP Bradfield, Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close is concerned: 
  • It would be morally and ethically wrong for MHA to prohibit the movement of those residents of CP Bradfield, Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close who insist on leaving the safety of our facilities to visit family and/or friends over the Christmas period/festive season (basically between now and mid-January). Everyone should still bear in mind that these four facilities remain in a strict ‘locked-in’ position 
  • We urge and implore the abovementioned residents to ‘stay at home’, and not to venture out. Those who do venture out will be doing so at their own risk 
  • Any resident in any of the above facilities who decides to venture out, whether it is for a day, a few days, a week or more, will not be allowed to return to MHA (including our Isolation facilities) for at least 14 days after Christmas, meaning return will not be possible until 09 January 2021 at the earliest. No exceptions can be considered 
  • The resident will be obliged to undergo a Covid test within 3 days of planning to return to his/her MHA room or apartment, and such test must show a negative result. If the test isn’t done as prescribed, or if the result is positive, the resident will not be allowed to return until our Nursing Services Manager considers it safe to do so. The required test will be for the resident’s account 
  • Residents returning to MHA must self-isolate in their apartment or room for 14 days on return. All costs associated with barrier nursing (PPEs etc) will be for the resident’s account 
  • No resident of the abovementioned facilities will be allowed to leave MHA premises until agreement has been reached between the resident and the Nursing Services Manager, and permission given. We cannot afford any misunderstandings or errors. 

CovidCom will review this matter on a daily basis, and any changes or concessions will be announced. This is a critical time for MHA, for our City, and for the world. The Board, Management and CovidCom urge all residents to think very carefully before making any external plans for Christmas this year, and we ask family members to co-operate with us in this regard. This request about not making any external plans for Christmas this year applies equally to our Village residents who, although having freedom of movement within the bounds of Lockdown Level 1, must understand that they too can easily become infected, or infect others. 

Of great importance too is the continued safety of our staff, especially the frontline staff who are dedicated to their nursing or caring duties. All of us owe them, and their families, a duty to protect them. They live and work in fear of Covid. 

Restrictions around domestic cleaners, gardeners, hairdressers and the libraries continue to be reviewed by CovidCom on a regular basis. The restrictions remain in place. 


A new slogan has been invented somewhere, which is called the three W’s: 

Wash your hands 
Watch your distance
Wear face coverings 

The three W’s are worth practising every day, everywhere. 



Malcolm Stewart 


Science of Stupid is a comedic television series on the National Geographic Channel (so one can safely assume that it’s not rubbish, although your scribe hasn’t watched an episode). In this show, science of action is described in several different daily routine activities like sports, stunts, adventures, and things that should not be done at home. Science of Stupid shows videos of people hurting themselves, and explains the science behind them. How dumb is that?! 

Add to this the well-known definition of Stupid: “Knowing the truth, seeing the truth, but still believing the lies”. 

Across Nelson Mandela Bay we continue to witness increasing acts of what can only be described as stupidity; individuals or groups who defy laws, don’t wear masks or sanitize, or they gather in large groups, or are cheek by jowl in small groups. All too often one hears the weak defence: “But it’s okay; we’re just family”. The Coronavirus (2019 strain) targets anyone and everyone, whether you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if you think you should audition for a spot on Science of Stupid. The spread of Covid-19 in our Bay area is frighteningly real. Please understand this. 

Our Bay is in the middle of a ‘second surge’ of infections; we are back where we were months ago, in terms of cases, hospitalizations, overloading of healthcare resources (people and facilities), and in deaths. To borrow the last line from a hit folk song of the 1960’s called "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?-----when will we ever learn? 

An infectious disease specialist recently shed important light on Covid-19 spikes: 

  • Human behaviour is the major factor 
  • Governments, as well as individual people, differ in their response to the pandemic. Some follow Covid-19 precautions, such as physical distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing. Others are not as prescriptive, or in restricting certain high risk activities. Some encourage or even mandate mask wearing and physical distancing in public areas. Others say it is a matter of personal choice 
  • In some cities, towns and communities, public places are closed or are practicing limitations (such as how many people are allowed inside at one time); others are operating normally 
  • However, the relationship between those precautions and cases of Covid-19 is clear: In areas where fewer people are wearing masks and more are gathering indoors to eat, drink, observe religious practices, attend funerals, celebrate and socialize, even with family, cases are on the rise 
  • Places where people live or work closely together (multigenerational households, long-term care facilities, prisons and some types of businesses) have also tended to see more spread of the virus 
  • Outbreaks at nursing homes and “superspreader” events---gatherings of people where one infected person or more transmits the virus to many others--- continue to occur. 

Please, dear MHA family, help us to keep the virus away. Help us to protect our residents and staff. 

Since the last Newsflash the MHA family has experienced another Covid-related death, and more positive cases are being reported. CovidCom met remotely again this morning, and seriously reviewed where MHA, as a caring organization, finds itself today. In summary: 

  • MHA’s facilities and its people (residents and staff) are under increasing attack by the virus 
  • Residents are, in many cases, rapidly reaching breaking point; they have understandably ‘had enough’ of Covid-19 
  • Staff too are rapidly reaching breaking point; they constantly work in an unbelievably stressful environment 
  • MHA’s procedures, protocols and disciplines remain intact, and relevant. 

In view of the sustained Covid-19 onslaught, and the increase in infections both inside and outside of MHA, CovidCom unanimously agreed the following: 

  1. Halls, libraries and hairdressing salons will remain closed 
  2. Cleaners and cleaning services must remain away from our Village facilities 
  3. Gardeners and gardening services (other than MHA’s own) must remain away from our Village facilities 

These and other restrictions relating to the Villages will continue to be reviewed on a weekly basis. Those restrictions which still apply to our ‘locked-in’ facilities (CP Bradfield, Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close), in particular regarding visitors not being allowed in, continue as is, until further notice. 

We ask for your continued acceptance and compliance; we know that it isn’t easy. 

CovidCom also discussed the emotional matter of how to deal with the Christmas period, as it would apply to CP Bradfield, Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close, where residents continue to live in a ‘locked-in’ environment, as they have been doing since late March. Some residents have asked to be allowed to visit family on Christmas Day, or for an extended period over Christmas/New Year. The brutal truth is that moving outside of the abovementioned facilities will expose those residents to the virus, which in turn puts other residents and our staff at risk. Sadly, the argument that “I will only be with family” doesn’t hold water. Anyone leaving one of these facilities would have to self-isolate for ten days on return (as is the case with someone returning from receiving medical attention), and MHA does not have the manpower and logistical resources to deal with that. What unfolds within our City and within MHA over the next fortnight will dictate what final decision CovidCom must make regarding ‘Christmas absence”, but at this stage we ask all residents to carefully consider the threat, and MHA’s predicament. It is more than likely that ‘Christmas absence’ will not be practically possible in 2020, and that a painful sacrifice may need to be made, in the best interests of all. 

Many folk in MHA’s villages are facing the same predicament, the same tough decisions. One resident shared that, for the first time in her life, she will not be sharing Christmas with family (her choice) or, in 90 years, being able to attend a Christmas service in her church. 

In so many ways, 2020 has been a year of sacrifice. We are a loving community; it is up to each and every one of us to be supportive and caring, as we fight the good fight, as we pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11). 



Greetings to all residents, staff and those who are part of the MHA family. 

The world seems to have resigned itself to being divided into two factions: those who care (about themselves, and others) and those who don’t care (about themselves, and others). While this has been allowed to unfold, the virus is continuing on its destructive path. As at today, 58.7 million people across the world have been infected since March (768 000 in RSA), and 1.39 million people have died from Covid-19 (20 903 in RSA). This isn’t a conspiracy, it’s not a game; it’s real. Within our Metro, people we know, people we work with or employ, our families and friends, people who are our neighbours, people who are our friends in a retirement village, are becoming infected. Sadly, within MHA our infection incidence is rising, and last week we had to deal with the first death within our community. We have been protected and blessed for so long now, but it was inevitable that this would happen. It doesn’t diminish the sadness, though. 

This morning one of our Bob Zeiss Bedsitter residents, who was in hospital on Friday but subsequently returned to her room, tested Covid positive. The upshot of this is that all Bedsitter residents have been confined to their rooms with immediate effect, and until further notice. CovidCom has had no hesitation in implementing this drastic measure; we have to protect all residents in BZB and in the adjoining CP Bradfield Frail Care, and at the same time do what we can to safeguard the employees and service providers who work in those two facilities. 

The Board, Management and CovidCom urge each and every member of the MHA family to exercise extreme caution in your daily lives; wear a mask whenever you leave your cottage or room, sanitize as frequently and you can, limit your visits to any public place (supermarket or shop, coffee shop/restaurant), and please think long and hard before you visit with friends or family. The so-called ‘second surge’ isn’t coming; it’s here already, right on top of us all. 



President Ramaphosa didn’t really tell us anything new when he spoke to the nation via TV on Wednesday evening. We knew in advance about ‘pandemic fatigue’, we knew that the virus was again spreading across the country, we knew that our Metro is a worrying hotspot, and we knew that irresponsible behaviour in and around bars, restaurants, taverns and shebeens is the main cause of ‘super-spreader’ events. We also know that wearing of masks and safe distancing are the most significant ways in which we can avoid becoming infected, or spreading infection. What the President didn’t say was that it is a distinct possibility that Mayors or Provincial Premiers may put additional, localized Lockdown measures in place, at very short notice. Nelson Mandela Bay would be right on top of that list. Time will tell if this is accurate, but it remains up to every citizen in the Metro to behave responsibly: wear a mask, practise safe distancing, think long and hard about making a trip outside of your home, continue to suck up the pain of not being with family and friends, and remember that anyone over 65 is at huge risk of becoming infected. Every resident within MHA knows all of this, and what to do about surviving Covid-19; it is up to you. 

It’s scary how the Covid landscape within MHA can change in less than a week. Since the last Newsflash (#67 on Tuesday 10 November) the following has happened (accurate up to noon today): 

  • A resident at Annesley Gardens has tested Covid positive, and is in hospital 
  • Two residents of Cassia Gardens were in close contact with that person, and so they are in isolation at home 
  • Our Professional Nurse/Counsellor was in close contact with the infected resident, and so she is in isolation 
  • A resident at Wesley Gardens remains infected, and is isolating at home 
  • We have two Frail Care residents in hospital (not necessarily Covid-related) 

CovidCom members discussed these developments this morning, and are unanimous in deciding the following: 

  1. Gardeners and gardening services, privately employed by residents, will not be allowed onto Village premises as from Monday 16 November 2020, until further notice 
  2. Domestics housekeepers and domestic housekeeping service providers, privately employed by residents, will not be allowed onto Village premises as from Monday 16 November 2020, until further notice 
  3. Village Halls, including libraries, will be closed from Monday 16 November 2020, until further notice 
  4. External contractors may not enter the Village premises. This excludes those contractors refurbishing cottages for Life Right re-sale, as they would be confined to the cottage being worked on, and under the control of the Manager 
  5. Gardeners contracted by MHA will continue to service the common property in the Villages, under the strict control of the Managers 

CovidCom will review these additional safety measures on a fortnightly basis, and all residents within MHA will continue to be kept informed.  


CovidCom members secretly hoped that another Newsflash in 2020 would not be necessary, but realistically we knew that the war against Covid-19 was not over, and that our work would continue, as it has certainly done. We communicate daily. 

Covid cases in our Metro have shot up tenfold in just two weeks; hospitals are filling up and ICUs are at full capacity. As a result of what the authorities have described as ‘mass disobedience’, we are witnessing a massive outbreak of new cases, sometimes with up to 500 cases a day, from 238 on 11 October, to 349 on 19 October, and to 3584 on 6 November. It is spreading across the city; from Motherwell to Mill Park; from Summerstrand to Soweto-on-Sea; from Newton Park to New Brighton. It largely involves people who have what the President is calling ‘pandemic fatigue’; people who either think they are immune because they have survived thus far, or because they think that they aren’t in the ‘at risk’ category, or because they just don’t care any longer. It also involves masses who are ignorant of the destruction which the virus can cause, or that simply wearing a face mask can make a huge ‘life or death’ difference. Sadly, it also involves innocent folk, getting on with their (retired) lives, who get infected via careless family and friends, or from a ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ encounter with a stranger, like a cashier or a clerk. 

Our Metro of 1.1 million residents, which has already seen 75000 jobs shed this year, can ill afford another lockdown. We are experiencing a resurgence, and this increase in cases has not been seen anywhere else in South Africa’s metropolitan areas. We are heading for trouble; we are sure that you realize this, and know how you can contribute to the war effort. 

Regarding MHA, this is the Covid history since March: 

Because of four new Covid infections at MHA in the past week, and our other recent cases, CovidCom met on 9 November 2020 to decide what new, bold decisions need to be made in order to protect the lives of our residents and our staff. This Newsflash provides details of what was discussed and agreed at that meeting. Please carefully read how some changes will directly affect you; if you need any clarification, please don’t hesitate to ask your Manager. All changes are effective from Wednesday 11 November 2020: 


  • No visitors will be allowed onto the premises. Therefore, the ‘kuierhoekies’/visiting tables will be closed 
  • Visiting of residents through the security fences may continue, without appointment, provided that there is strict compliance regarding social distancing (1 metre on either side of the fence), no physical contact, and mandatory wearing of masks 
  • Visitors to MFC may continue the current practice of briefly greeting loved ones at the gate leading to the patio/entrance door, provided that distancing protocols are strictly adhered to. No appointment is necessary 
  • Hairdressing services are suspended 
  • The ‘invisible wall’ between CPB and BZB is reinstated, so there will be no visiting between the two facilities, neither will CPB residents be allowed into the BZB lounge 
  • All external contractors (i.e. excluding MHA Maintenance staff) are not allowed onto the premises, and any work in progress must be put on hold 
  • Church services, only recently introduced, are suspended 


  • Hairdressing services at Aldersgate and Annesley Gardens/Sheariton are suspended 
  • Community Halls are closed, other than for access to the libraries 
  • Regarding libraries, the Managers will ensure that residents use the library to swop books, and not for social gathering purposes 
  • Church services and other large gatherings in the Halls are suspended 
  • Blood Pressure clinics are suspended 
  • External staff (housekeepers and/or gardeners contracted individually by residents) may continue to come to the Village cottages to provide their services, but Managers will impress upon the residents involved that such service providers remain the responsibility of the residents, and that the residents must ensure that the service providers comply with all the laid-down protocols around sanitizing, safe distancing, and the disciplined wearing of masks throughout their presence on site 


  • These decisions made by CovidCom are notwithstanding the prospect that President Ramaphosa will announce this week measures and/or warnings of some Lockdown-type restrictions to halt the growing resurgence of Covid-19. CovidCom is aware that some of its decisions will be unpopular, as were some decisions taken since mid-March, but all are taken in an endeavour to halt the spread of the virus, and thus save lives. Residents are encouraged to view them as such, and not as punitive measures 
  • If and how CovidCom will be able to accommodate any requests by residents at CPB/MFC/BZB/EC to be allowed to leave the premises to spend some time with loved ones over the Christmas period is currently under review, especially around the requirement for such residents to have to self-isolate for 10 days on return. This is a complicated matter which requires further investigation and debate, and so remains under review 
  • All issues discussed at CovidCom’s 9 November meeting will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, and will be informed by a combination of Government’s decisions, the infection rate in the Metro and beyond, the infection rate within MHA, and any other pertinent factors. 

We are all living in difficult times, wherever we are on Earth. More than ever, we need to live in a spirit of community, hope, love for our neighbours, concern for others, obedience, and faith. We need to be a part of the solution, not the problem. Oh yes; we also need to pray! 


CovidCom has consistently reminded all those in the MHA family that Government’s moving the country to Lockdown Level 1 did not signify that the war against COVID-19 had been won, or was over. On the contrary, what has happened and is happening in other countries across the world indicates that a second surge is almost inevitable. Within the MHA context this indicates that all of us still need to be cautious, to take precautions, to behave responsibly, and to thereby protect ourselves and others. 

Sadly, this isn’t happening as it should. Residents in our Villages are walking about, or arriving to have their blood pressure taken, without wearing a mask; parties involving several people are taking place; Government’s rules and regulations are being ignored, and it is apparent that there is an increasing level of non-compliance and complacency, and a decreasing level of common sense being applied. The majority continue to comply but, unwittingly or not, the minority are putting lives at risk. Yes, there is generalizing involved here, but this is not the time nor place to tip-toe around the issue. 

Recent events at Aldersgate are a case in point, and regrettably have to be singled out. Ten days ago a memorial service was held in the Aldersgate Hall (special permission granted), but CovidCom has become aware that there was singing during the service, residents hugged the bereaved, and subsequently paid visits. The bereaved husband, and his daughter, have since been tested positive for COVID-19. This now puts everyone who attended the service, or who has had contact subsequently, at risk of contracting and/or spreading the virus. These are the consequences of the situation: 

  • Any people who had contact with the bereaved at the service should ideally isolate themselves for the next 10 days, until 17 October 2020. To those affected: you know what to do; what needs to be done. It is up to you 
  • The Aldersgate Hall will be locked with immediate effect, and there will be no exceptions regarding access until at least 17 October 2020 

CovidCom met on 2 October 2020, before the Aldersgate issues were known, and the following was discussed and agreed: 

  1. Barriers between CP Bradfield and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters have been removed, allowing freedom of movement by residents and staff of those two facilities 
  2. Hairdresser Rae Smith re-opened her salon in Bob Zeiss Bedsitters on 6 October (for Bedsitter and CP Bradfield residents only) 
  3. Effective Friday 9 October 2020 the use of Halls will revert back to pre-Lockdown arrangements, subject to any remaining Government rules relating to numbers etc. Regrettably, this does not apply to the Aldersgate Hall 
  4. Several other matters were discussed, which are mainly operational in nature. 



LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 2: 36(L5)+30(L4)+78(L3)+32(L2)=DAY 176  

As a nation we spent 36 days locked down at Level 5, then 30 at Level 4, a whopping 78 at Level 3, then 34 at Level 2, and now we’re into day 3 of Level 1; that’s 181 days in total. Lockdown, to some or other extent, is going to be with us for months to come, judging by what is happening due to renewed Covid-19 outbreaks in several countries. 

CovidCom has decided that this Newsflash will be the last. We have eventually reached Lockdown Level 1; we have been locked down for 6 months; it’s the last week of September; and edition #65 reminds us that 65 is a good number for retiring! If there are urgent or important matters to announce to all in the MHA family then the CEO can do that via a bulk SMS, or issue a Newsflash on an ad hoc basis. 

In the first week of March CovidCom was formed, on instructions from the MHA Board, to manage the onslaught of the pandemic; to develop world-class strategies, to comply with Government’s laws and rules, to ensure that our staff were equipped to work in an unknown and dangerous environment, to put facilities and measures in place to deal with every conceivable need or challenge and, to put it bluntly, to preserve lives by keeping the virus away. CovidCom also decided, right from the beginning, to keep residents and staff and the wider MHA family fully informed of what was happening inside and outside of MHA, and how to cope with the turmoil, and this has been achieved via the Newsflash. We also tried to occasionally provide some light relief, some entertainment, and some bits of useless information! 

None of us can or should put a cost to the professionalism, dedication and courage displayed by our staff; history will prove that this is largely how we have kept the Covid monster away. Our gratitude to our staff is immense. We can, however, easily keep track of what we have spent since mid-March in protecting our people and our facilities from the virus. This is a summary of the major costs incurred: 

Transport of Frail Care staff       R 341,000 
Relief staff                                  R 174,000 
COVID testing                            R 146, 000 
Sanitizing of facilities                  R 170,000 
PPEs                                           R 224,000 
“Risk allowance” to certain staff    R 74,000 
TOTAL R 1,129,000 

Yes, over R1 million has been spent on prevention in the Frail Care environment. This, after all, is where our most vulnerable residents are; those who cannot protect themselves in the same way that residents living independently can do and have done. Significant effort has gone into protecting residents in our cottages, rooms and apartments, even if some of those efforts aren’t obvious or easily measured. CovidCom knows, from feedback and comments, that the vast majority of those in the MHA family are grateful for the decisions taken, for the protective measures implemented, and for the ongoing communication. 

The work of CovidCom is far from over. All of its members will continue to provide direction and leadership in the war against the virus, and provide encouragement to the MHA staff, for as long as is necessary. On a personal level, and as the retiring Newsflash scribe, let me borrow some lyrics from the musical “The Sound of Music”: 

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye 
I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye 
I'm glad to go, I cannot tell a lie 



Each week Rev George Irvine writes “A Sacred Space” for the St. John’s bulletin. George has given permission for us to use this one, which he describes as “a bit different”! 

“Once in a while I come across a book that speaks into my life. This one is entitled, “Surprised by The Man on the Borrowed Donkey” with the subtitle “Ordinary Blessings.” The writer is Denise M. Ackerman who is an Extraordinary Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Stellenbosch. Each chapter, following the first chapter, opens our eyes to blessings we sometimes haven’t thought about. Let me list the chapter headings for you: 

Blessed are those who embrace contradiction, for they will find promise in paradox 
Blessed are those who live into their holiness, for they will be surprised by wonder 
Blessed are those who find freedom, for they will be free for others 
Blessed are those who listen with discernment, for they will hear “the sound of sheer silence” 
Blessed are those who are grateful, for they will delight in the ordinary 
Blessed are those who know when enough is enough, for they will be able to share with freedom 
Blessed are those who can chuckle at the incongruities of life, for they will be able to laugh at themselves 

Let me suggest that you take one a day and spend ten minutes meditating on it. 

The first blessing about contradictions and paradoxes is speaking into my life at the moment, The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary tells us that a contradiction is “a statement containing elements logically at variance with each other”. Paradox is “a statement that seems self-contradictory or absurd, but in reality expresses a possible truth”. A hymn in the Methodist Hymn Book is full of paradoxes: 

Make me a captive Lord and then I shall be free, 
Force me to render up my sword and I shall conqueror be”. 

I suggest that our growth in Christ is enabled by our willingness to turn our contradictions into paradoxes or, to put it more simply, to turn our “either-ors” into “both-ands”. A few examples will do: Sinfulness and our deep desire to be more like Jesus; Praying and our minds all over the place; hurt and forgiveness; inner darkness and inner light; Faith and doubt. They all belong together. One outcome for me of turning contradictions into paradoxes is that I can stop beating myself up”. 

George Irvine 


Diary dates 

Entries in our personal 2020 diaries have been sparse, haven’t they?! Please note the following: 

  • Liaison Committee meetings are scheduled for November, and these will take place 
  • The annual Thanksgiving Service, usually held on the last Sunday in November, will not take place in the foreseeable future, at least not until it is safe to return in numbers to worship in church. We have so much to be grateful for in 2020, and we will hold the service as soon as we can do so 
  • Residents’ Meetings, held annually, will not take place in 2020, for safety reasons. We will re-schedule 


Think good thoughts. Speak good words. Take good actions. 
Three steps that will bring more to you than you can ever imagine (Rhonda Byrne: Australian TV writer and producer) 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 2: 36(L5)+30(L4)+78(L3)+32(L2)=DAY 176  


 The Countdown continues!! 

On Wednesday evening President Ramaphosa announced to the nation that we will be moving to Lockdown Level 1 as from midnight on Sunday 21 September, thus easing most of the Lockdown regulations put in place on 27 March 2020. He said that ‘this will return the country, its people and our economy to a situation that is more normal; that more resembles the lives that we were living six months ago’. He also emphasized during his address that his task team will remain ‘cautious’, a word used often by your CovidCom during the past few months. 

Some of the changes which will come into effect on Monday 22nd are: 

  • A maximum of 250 people can attend indoor gatherings, with up to 500 allowed at outdoor gatherings 
  • No venue or facility can host more than 50% of its capacity 
  • Gyms and theatres are allowed to accommodate 50% of all seating options 
  • Restrictions on crowds at sporting events remain in place 
  • International travel (business or leisure, inwards and outwards) can resume, with restrictions. 

In Newsflash #63 last Friday CovidCom stated that the issue of the full re-opening of the Halls would be addressed on a weekly basis. It has been decided to delay the full re-opening of our Halls for a while yet. We need to be cautious; we all need to be patient. Most countries across the globe have experienced a ‘second surge’ in infections, and it is highly likely that this will happen in South Africa too, as we all rush to embrace the ‘new normal’, especially with tourism and gatherings. 

In this regard it might assist in understanding a ‘second surge’ threat by looking at what has happened to Israel during the past ten days (it’s a country with 9 million inhabitants, compared with our 59 million): 

  • Today (18th September) Israel has become the first nation to return to a full lockdown, to slow a severe second wave of infections 
  • Religious mass gatherings and political upheaval are widely blamed for the second surge 
  • The country that claimed to have handled Coronavirus best now has one of the world's worst outbreaks per capita 
  • At the start of September, Israel had nearly 200 new cases per million people every day, a higher rate than the horrifying outbreaks in the USA and Brazil 
  • Their government head of Covid said this week: "I think currently there is mismanagement from the government side of the situation. We had lots of lessons from the first wave that were not implemented” He also said that they had failed to educate high-risk communities 
  • The number of serious cases requiring hospitalisation is rising, as is the number of medical staff in isolation or unable to work due to exhaustion, while influenza season is about to begin 
  • The biggest challenge for Israeli authorities may be getting people to stay inside 
  • A noticeable difference between Israel's first and second waves is the lack of compliance—even defiance—by many people towards the Government's control measures. 

Yes, it could be argued that Israel’s demographics and dynamics are very different to South Africa’s; also, our countries are 7000km apart; we have handled Lockdown differently and better here. But please remember this: Coronavirus is an indiscriminate gogga; we have all had six months to witness that. For this reason, we just have to remain cautious, alert, compliant and patient, and to wear masks. We have come so far; let us not allow our guard (or mask!) to slip. 


Breaking news: 

Just as we were about to commit this edition to printing we received the distressing news that one of our Frail Care residents has just been tested positive for Covid-19. She had been admitted to hospital for an issue unrelated to Covid-19, but was routinely tested by the hospital. This is all we know at present. 

It is a timely but unwelcome reminder that we (residents and staff alike) cannot drop our guard. The virus has not passed. 


Cleaning of cottages 

Every MHA cottage resident received a letter dated 14 September 2020 from the CEO, and a draft “Appointment as Private Domestic/Gardener” contract. The letter from Hein purposely went into a lot of the background detail leading up to where we all currently find ourselves. The letter also made it clear that negotiating a cleaning service to be provided by MHA was work in progress; significant legal exposures are involved, if we don’t do this correctly. 

During this past week Hein’s Managers have reported in that: 

  • There is reluctance from a small minority of residents to complete the “Appointment” contract 
  • A request has been made for window-cleaning and ironing services to be included 
  • One response to the documentation sent out by the CEO was to say that “it is time MHA do something for residents who have been without cleaners for almost 6 months”; as a consequence “MHA have done nothing to help us”. 

Our CEO again asks residents to afford him the time and space to deal with this complex issue in the proper manner, which will provide a sustainable, affordable and legally watertight solution. If any resident has proven legal and contractual skills in dealing with the engagement of a cleaning service shortly after MHA was compelled to terminate the services of the majority of our cleaning staff, he would value such support skills. 


MHA Board of Directors 

At the 2020 Annual General Meeting held on 8 September: 

  • All existing Directors made themselves available for re-election 
  • Hein Barnard was re-elected as the Prescribed Officer 
  • Rev George Irvine graciously agreed to continue as Founder President (an ex-officio role) 
  • Chairman Neil McLaggan informed the Board that he wished to step down as Chairman, for business reasons 
  • Malcolm Stewart was elected as the Chairman for the ensuing year 
  • The Board thus comprises Malcolm Stewart, Neil McLaggan, Lesley Lawson, Kevin Helm, Thuthuka Songelwa and Mike Burmeister 



LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 2: 36(L5)+30(L4)+78(L3)+25(L2)=DAY 169 

  At last---some good news!!! 

Some CovidCom members met with the Managers yesterday, and there was unanimous agreement that our Lockdown rules involving Domestics, Gardeners and Halls will be relaxed, effective Monday 14 September 2020, subject to some necessary provisos. We can share the following with residents: 


  • A maximum of 50% of residents in a Village may attend a function or event in their Hall, and limited to no more than 50 people at any one time (and as per Government’s current regulations) 
  • Regrettably no functions such as tea parties or sit-down meals will be permitted, at this stage 
  • The regular gatherings of the past (such as bible study, carpet bowls and other indoor recreation or amusement, various forms of fellowship etc) can now resume, but no private functions will be permitted at this stage 
  • Managers have been mandated by CovidCom and the CEO to manage the use of the Halls during this re-opening phase, and any resident/group wishing to make use of the Hall must liaise with the Manager, in advance. If in doubt, please ask! 
  • Any person or group using the Hall must ensure that all health/safety protocols are adhered to, such as sanitizing of hands, social distancing affecting individuals and furniture layout, numbers attending, and the wearing of masks 
  • The safety of those wishing to attend a function or event in the Halls is paramount. You all know what to do! 
  • The full opening up of the Halls will be reviewed on a weekly basis, as we move cautiously to regain what we have had to sacrifice for almost six months. 


  • Private Domestic housekeepers, whether employed individually or as part of a housekeeping business, may return 
  • It is imperative that residents continue to practice personal safety, and to ensure that workers entering a cottage are in good health, have access to sanitizing materials, and wear a mask while on MHA property; MHA cannot be held responsible in this regard, neither will the Managers be conducting any screening or similar functions 
  • As was the case before Lockdown, the use or employment of private domestics is a matter between a resident and a service provider, including but not limited to compliance with the country’s rules and requirements regarding employment 
  • The CEO and his Managers have finalized investigations around the issue of MHA again providing a form of housekeeping service. A letter to each resident has been drafted, and will be delivered early next week. 


  • Privately employed gardeners may return 
  • It is imperative that residents continue to practice personal safety, and to ensure that gardeners are in good health, have access to sanitizing materials, and wear a mask while on MHA property; MHA cannot be held responsible in this regard, neither will the Managers be conducting any screening or similar functions. Employment of private gardeners is a matter between a resident and a service provider, including but not limited to compliance with the country’s rules and requirements regarding employment 
  • MHA’s gardeners will not be permitted to work for residents on an ‘after hours’ basis, Monday to Friday. 

It is generally anticipated that our country will shortly move to Lockdown Level 1, and CovidCom will be guided by this. Any changes to existing arrangements will be announced in a subsequent Newsflash. As we have stated in recent weeks, CovidCom will continue with its cautious approach; the last thing we need in our lives right now is to have to reverse decisions made because, for example, there are incidences of COVID-19 infections in our Villages, or a surge in infections generally. CovidCom has endeavoured to ‘get it right’ in whatever we have decided, said or done. We need the continued support and co-operation of everyone, so please let us continue in this vein.  

Don’t get caught! 

A timely alert was received from a Village resident who wishes to remain anonymous, and also not divulge the type of service provider involved. The concerns raised are relevant nonetheless, and should be shared. 

A few weeks ago she received a phone call from one of her service providers wanting to update her on changes to her package. She was suspicious, and politely said that she was not interested. She did not divulge any personal information, passwords, etc. She was just informed about the changes, and her POLITENESS to listen respectfully cost her dearly. She had R450 added to her monthly instalment debit order for additional services which she did not need or want, or agree to. Luckily for her she knew someone in senior management at the service provider, and they are hopefully in the process of cancelling what had been added to her original contract. 

She was never given this information in the call, and in her opinion she was lied to by omission. Her plea to all residents is NEVER to engage in ANY conversation telephonically with ANY service providers, especially out of POLITENESS. Rather POLITELY end the call immediately and if in doubt visit your service provider personally to check. Don’t get hooked! 

Keep safe from Covid-19 and keep safe from scamsters. 

It’s almost Christmas!! 

Next week we will have started the 100-99-98-97 countdown to Christmas. Children will start behaving properly as they assemble their wish lists, shopping malls will start putting up their gaudy decorations while the dreaded Boney M. carol music blares endlessly, and people will spend vast sums of money they really don’t have on items they really don’t need. Let the madness begin! 

Christmas 2020 is going to be significantly different this year; millions across the country have less (of everything), travelling to visit loved ones will be a challenge, perhaps churches won’t yet be able to open their doors to everyone who would wish to attend a Christmas service, to sing favourite carols, and to celebrate the birth of Christ in the way they have done since they were kids. 

Right now is, however, an appropriate time to remind ourselves of all the good that has happened during the year, and to prepare ourselves for the advent and celebration of Christmas, and for a better, safer new year ahead. There is much that we can do, in terms of love and concern. 

With the relaxation of some more of MHA’s Lockdown regulations from Monday, we can even look forward to this, in the weeks ahead: 

Deck the halls with boughs of holly 
Fa la la la la, la la la la 
'Tis the season to be jolly 
Fa la la la la, la la la la 

In other news: 

  • Our Nursing Services Manager wishes to inform residents that Blood Pressure clinics resume on 14 September 
  • The Visitors’ Nook at Maranatha Frail Care is now operational, and is already being used successfully 
  • A Spring edition of our ‘MHA on the Bay’ newsletter is currently under construction 



 LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 2: 36(L5)+30(L4)+78(L3)+18(L2)=DAY 162 

 The value of co-operation, and the power of prayer 

Without even needing to check, every one of the previous 61 editions of ‘Breaking News’ and then ‘Newsflash’ will have presented a worrying picture of the escalating Covid-19 pandemic, both locally and globally; the trends, the spread, the statistics, the laws and the rules. Residents were asked to do certain things, told not to do other things, and this was not an easy time for responsible, intelligent, retired adults. None of you signed up for this stuff! American Civil War General William Sherman coined the phrase "War is hell", and we have all witnessed our own version of that truth, over the past five months. 

The weekly running total shown above is actually incorrect; MHA residents went into their own version of Lockdown on 20 March 2020, whereas the country went into Lockdown (Level 5) a week later, on 27 March. You have all been marvellous, simply wonderful in the way you have co-operated, complied, hardly complained, and just got on with the survival game. Residents and staff would richly deserve a gold medal, once the pandemic has passed. 

The value of your co-operation and sacrifices cannot be measured; it has helped enormously in getting us to where we are today. So too we cannot underestimate the power of prayer. How else did we get to where we are today, in this war? 

Today we celebrate yet another week in which we can report ZERO cases of infection or isolation. In terms of staff and facilities, MHA has proved to be world-class in the way that the pandemic has been kept away from our doors for so long. We have so much to be grateful for. 

So this week’s Newsflash can largely be focused on good news and happy stories! We want to share the following with you: 

  • The visitor table at CP Bradfield, which our Nursing Services Manager Sanet Marx calls ‘die kuierhoekie’ (the visiting nook), is proving to be very popular, and serving its essential purpose 
  • Some Bob Zeiss Bedsitter residents left the safety of their home for the first time in 167 days on Monday; they were taken to the beachfront in the MHA bus, and even stopped off at ‘Something Good’ for a take-away hamburger! This has proved to be a huge hit, and was repeated with some residents of Epworth Close yesterday. We are considering extending this to some frail care residents too 
  • The ‘video call’ facility at CP Bradfield remains underutilized. It is a wonderful way for residents to connect with family and friends, in these trying times 
  • Films are being shown two or three times a week in the Bedsitter lounge 
  • With the Bedsitter residents still being locked in, the hairdresser Rae Smith has still not got back to her salon there. Some staff and residents have developed an extra skill by cutting the hair of those residents brave or desperate enough to make use of the service----it is never too late to learn new skills!! 



Negativity is a choice 
Resentment is a choice 
Anger is a choice 
Revenge is a choice 
Optimism is a choice 
Compassion is a choice 
Forgiveness is a choice 
Empathy is a choice 
How we live our one given life is a choice 

Choose wisely 

Don’t mess with your muselet!!! 

A fortnight ago the Newsflash dealt with taking stock of where we are with the pandemic, and we shared: “This is the moment to take a deep breath, but it is certainly premature to unwind the wire thingy from around the neck of the champagne bottle, or to drop our guard”. Now for today’s first piece of useless information and/or English lesson: did you know that the ‘wire thingy’ is a muselet (pronounced mew-zeh-LAY)? It is the wire cage that fits over the cork of a bottle of champagne, sparkling wine or beer to prevent the cork from emerging under the pressure of the carbonated contents. It derives its name from the French museler; to muzzle. So now you know! 

Ismail Lagardien is a writer and political economist, and the author of a weekly column which is featured in The Herald. He is not everyone’s favourite; he thrives on controversy, and winding people up, but he usually gets his point across. He’s bright too; he holds a PhD in International Political Economy. This week he was going on about the state of cricket administration in the country. He said he wouldn’t ghettoize his argument by touching on women’s cricket. Ghettoize? A dictionary was consulted to understand the verb, and his point; it explained the word as “---restrict to an isolated or segregated place, group, or situation”. We learn something new every day, even if it’s an English word. Here ends today’s second piece of useless information---unless you want to drop the word into your next conversation or argument  

Let’s end this frivolous article with the third piece of useless information and/or English lesson. Within MHA there must be about a thousand aglets at any one time, but not all in use at once. An aglet is the metal or plastic tube fixed tightly round each end of a shoelace (presumably to prevent it from fraying at the end). 

All of this is a pleasant change from the ‘other’ subject, isn’t it?! 


Fraud alert!! 

Criminals focussing on fraud are everywhere, and there is currently a surge in their efforts to deceive unsuspecting consumers into disclosing their security information such as PINs, online passwords, card CVV number etc. Never share these details with anyone! Fraudsters also try to influence rational thinking by causing excitement, distress and urgency. 

If you are faced with a situation which causes you doubt, discomfort or distress, either terminate the call or say it’s not a convenient time to deal with it, and ask to be phoned back later. Then seek advice from your bank, a family member, a friend, a neighbour, or ask your Manager. Do not allow yourself to become another victim of those who prey on the vulnerable elderly in particular. 

The table below reflects the possible threats and how to respond to the threat:  

(Woolworths Financial Services are acknowledged as authors of this warning notice, as amended) 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 2: 36(L5)+30(L4)+78(L3)+11(L2)=DAY 155 

 COVID-19: We just don’t know, do we? 

All over the world, those in authority, in a country or city or community, are being called upon to make predictions about this Coronavirus; is it being defeated, will it come back, how and when do we ease back on restrictions and precautions, how do citizens of the world respond? The evidence is increasingly clear: we just don’t know. 

Every day, scientists are making progress in research analysis and finding a cure---and then politicians and the media create their own versions of what we mere earthlings need to know and do. Our needs are simple: when and how will it end! Based on that information we will then know how to proceed with our locked-down and restricted lives, in a personal and joint effort to survive the war, and get back to living a normal life, whatever ‘normal’ is going to look and feel like. 

Against this backdrop, our CEO and his Managers met this week to review the pressing issues around privately employed or contracted housekeeping and gardening services (individuals or organizations), hairdressers, physiotherapists, mani/pedicurists and similar professions and services being allowed back into the Villages, and the re-opening the Village halls. The debate was vigorous, and what emerged was general consensus there is simply too much at risk to take anything other than the current cautious approach. We can’t rush this. Many countries are witnessing a new surge in infections, and the possibility of new surges in South Africa is real. This is why, for example, MHA continues to provide a private taxi shuttle service for our Frail Care employees, and why deep cleaning of the Frail Care units continues; these two services cost R130,000 per month, but will continue for as long as is needed. How long will that be? We just don’t know, do we? 

Some residents will be up in arms that the service providers listed above will still be not allowed into our Villages, or that the Halls aren’t being re-opened yet. According to the Managers, the significant majority will welcome the decision, as it will extend their protection against the virus. There are those residents who are already ignoring the decisions (which, as mentioned in last Friday’s Newsflash, are State laws, not simply MHA’s rules). Maybe they have knowledge which MHA doesn’t have, but the sad truth of it, to use an old English phrase, is: “On your own head be it” (which, according to one source, is roughly translated as: “I think this is a really terrible idea but you’re the one who will suffer the consequences so do what you like.”). The CEO, accompanied by the Manager concerned, will be confronting those who have decided to ignore laws and rules, or who are selfishly bending them to suit themselves. It is sad that this needs to be done, but MHA will continue to be a leader in Covid-19 risk management, to protect lives. Doing anything less would be a betrayal. 

Where do we go from here? 

  • The CEO is drafting a letter, to be delivered to every resident during the course of next week, in which he will deal with the contractual and practical issues regarding the broad subject of ‘housekeeping and gardening’, and on how we can best deal with these, starting with re-introduction for all of the urgent reasons aired over recent times, and into the future. As we have said before, a complex range of issues is involved here 
  • The CEO and his Managers, supported by CovidCom, will continue to review the issues around housekeeping, gardening and other services, and the re-opening of the Village halls. This review will happen on a weekly basis, and will form part of an overall risk assessment, based on what is happening Covid-wise within and beyond MHA. A further announcement will be made during September, in this regard. 

The Board, CovidCom, the CEO and his Managers once again call on all residents, and the wider MHA family, for their support and understanding, as decisions are considered and made in the best interests of everyone. We have come so far together. Has it been enough? Can we all do more, until victory is achieved? We just don’t know, do we? 


This puts our current dilemma and challenges into some perspective: Blind and partially sighted people are especially vulnerable to the Corona virus, as they rely on touch to read braille and to navigate unfamiliar surroundings. They also need people to assist and guide them, so social distancing is not easy. Most of us have so much to be grateful for. 


What the world needs now 

Many members of the MHA family will remember “The World at War”, a 26-episode British TV documentary series which chronicled the events of WWII. It was, at the time of its completion in 1973, the most expensive factual series ever made, and attracted widespread acclaim. 

Since then, TV has brought virtually every form of conflict onto our screens; wars amongst nations, tribal wars, personal wars, gang warfare, religious wars, drug wars, terrorism, genocide and cyber wars. Recently there has been a renewed and necessary focus on tragedies around race, femicide and other abuse. The major world powers still talk about the possibility of WWIII breaking out at some future time. Meanwhile, many nations continue to spend obscene amounts on ‘defence’; last year USA spent US$643 billion, NATO partners $264bn, China $168bn, Saudi Arabia $83bn, and South Africa spent $3.6bn. Why? What for?! The world is in a terrible mess. 

In 1949, after the use of nuclear weapons at the end of WWII, physicist Albert Einstein suggested that any outcome of a possible WWIII would be so dire as to revert mankind back to the Stone Age. When asked what types of weapons World War III might be fought with, Einstein warned, "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones". 

Apart from the relentless wars against racism and abuse, the world is now fighting a different type of global war; the war against Covid-19. Almost a year down the road there is still difficulty in reaching agreement on Covid’s cause, how to handle it, how to defeat it, and how to prevent its return. Everything has a political ‘spin’; fighting for position, fighting for a slice of the pie, and how to influence voters with the loudest voice (the veracity of what is being said seems inconsequential!). 

Lockdown across the globe presented a glimmer of hope of a recalibration of how humankind could change the way we treat each other, and how we treat Mother Earth. That opportunity seems to be slipping away, day by day. 

Is a simple solution staring us in the face? "What the World Needs Now Is Love" was a popular 1965 soft ballad with lyrics by Hal David and music composed by Burt Bacharach. The first verse goes like this: 

What the world needs now is love, sweet love 
It's the only thing that there's just too little of 
What the world needs now is love, sweet love, 
No not just for some but for everyone. 

Call it corny; call it naïve; call it schmaltzy; call it what you like but, 55 years down the road, the message in the song remains strong and clear. Human beings have long forgotten how to love one another, and how to live in harmony with ourselves and with nature. We seem to have forgotten the commandment that we should love our neighbours as we love ourselves. We rush to justify conflict, hurt and hatred, basing arguments and actions on race, religion, gender, territory, history, revenge, prejudice; on just about anything and everything. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all teach the importance of loving God and loving your neighbour, because all three religions have a very large common core. Where are the leaders, across the world, who preach and practice love? It cannot just be left to religious leaders. The world desperately needs a new generation of leaders who have the hearts and minds of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King Jnr, the Dalai Lama, Benazir Bhutto, Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, Albert Luthuli and so many others. 

This is what 1 Corinthians 13 4-7 tells us about love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”. 

Oh yes; what the world needs now is love, sweet love. 


‘We may give without loving, but we cannot love without giving’ Bernard Meltzer (American radio personality) 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 2: 36(L5)+30(L4)+78(L3)+4(L2)=DAY 148 

The virus: taking stock of where we are today 

As the MHA family, and as a tiny fraction of the 7.8 billion people on Earth, we are five months’ down the road in dealing with this virus; dealing with Lockdown, uncertainty, sacrifice, inconvenience, loneliness, instances of being infected or infectious, information and misinformation, and just about everything else imaginable being thrown at us to disrupt our lives. If this was the theme of a hit TV series, we would throw naartjies at the screen; wouldn’t sleep at night! 

We are witnessing how the infection rate is declining in some countries (currently South Africa falls into this coveted category), or suddenly and randomly increasing again (parts of the USA, Australia, New Zealand, France, and now Germany). 

This has been stated before by scientists (and by CovidCom!): COVID-19 is an unpredictable beast. We will leave it to you to pore over the global statistics, but don’t spend too much time on that; by tomorrow the pattern and the numbers will have changed. 

What should occupy our minds today is this fact: across MHA we have no residents or staff presenting any Covid-like symptoms, no one is in isolation at home or in a MHA facility, and no one is on our ‘de-isolated’ list. Our Nursing Services Manager summed up the situation nicely: “All is good at the moment”! This is the moment to take a deep breath, but it is certainly premature to unwind the wire thingy from around the neck of the champagne bottle, or to drop our guard. The Covid monster will continue to prowl the streets of our city, and around all of MHA’s facilities. You all know what to do in this regard. Please do not become complacent or careless; we have come too far to let it slide. To borrow from a WWII slogan: “”Careless behaviour costs lives” 

It is also a time to reflect on how we have arrived at this point. CovidCom’s view is that the following have all contributed: preparation, taking the virus seriously, the right medical/nursing decisions, an unbelievably high level of professionalism and dedication on the part of the nursing and caring staff, exceptional levels of compliance and co-operation on the part of residents, and all of us having to make hard decisions. Let us also acknowledge that we are at this point by the grace of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us: “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.” What else needs to be said right now? 


Keeping in touch with loved ones 

Everyone, to some or other extent, has been cruelly deprived of contact with loved ones during Lockdown. It has been a necessary yet painful sacrifice. Those residents who have been locked in (Frail Cares, Bedsitters and Epworth Close) have been particularly hard hit, even if some visits at the gates and fences have been possible. It has been sad to witness, but those affected have been accepting and courageous. 

CovidCom has decided that it is now safe enough to create an indoor visiting area at CP Bradfield Frail Care, so that a resident of CPB or Bedsitters can be visited by a loved one. Matron Sanet Marx has asked that the following be shared: 

  • The area is at the front door; visitors don’t move through the buildings at all 
  • A Perspex dividing screen has been placed on a table. There is seating for two visitors 
  • Folk wishing to visit should make an appointment with the Matron (061 4755530) 
  • Visitors are screened before entering the building, and they are encouraged to wear a mask at all times 
  • The area is sanitized before every visit, and sanitizing liquid will be available for use by visitors 
  • Unfortunately no hugging or touching can be allowed 

Plans are underway to install similar facilities at Maranatha Frail Care and Epworth Close. 2 | 
P a g e 

In addition, there is a roving mobile phone available at CP Bradfield, and is used often (mostly by the same people who phone regularly). This enables a resident to speak to family or a friend, using the phone or via WhatsApp video. Matron Marx thinks that it is underutilised. Please feel free to make contact via this mobile phone; the number is 063 875 1321 

Taking it to another Level altogether!!! 

This Tuesday just past heralded the move to Lockdown Level 2. So it has been necessary to update our Lockdown Log, as per the top (the masthead) of the Newsflash. Apart from providing a weekly reminder of a statistic we would rather forget, it provides us all with a bit of arithmetic practice (as if we don’t already have enough numbers to deal with in our daily lives; ID, PIN, our own and other important mobile phones and landlines, bank account, TV channels, passwords and the like!). 


Non-residents entering MHA’s Villages 

Often with limited time available to ponder, CovidCom has tried its best to share information with residents as quickly as possible. Inevitably there have been instances where more clarity should have been given, or where we got it wrong. We have also made some decisions best suited to the needs of residents but not fully compliant with the Lockdown laws. 

Regarding the laws and rules around Visitors being allowed back into MHA Villages, CovidCom shares the following: 

  1. As stated in Newsflash #59 on Monday 17 August 2020, our Village gates are again open to visitors (family or friends) 
  2. In the same Newsflash we drew your attention to Para 58 of the Government Gazette which gave legal affect to the Lockdown Level 2 changes, and which stated: “All visits by members of the public to older persons’ residential facilities are prohibited except to the extent and in the manner directed by the relevant Cabinet Minister”. It is currently still the view of the Department of Social Development that visitors are not allowed into facilities such as MHA’s Villages. Unless or until MHA is instructed otherwise, the decision per 1. above remains: visitors are allowed into MHA Villages 
  3. The issue of privately employed or contracted housekeeping and gardening services (individuals or organizations) was also mentioned in Newsflash #59, and that contractual, legal and other issues are involved. This is a complex matter, as is the need to allow hairdressers, physiotherapists, mani/pedicurists and similar professions and services back into the Villages. These issues, as well as re-opening of the Halls, is currently being reviewed by the CEO, in collaboration with internal and external parties, and will also be discussed at a meeting between the CEO and his Managers on Tuesday 25 August. The outcome of these important matters will be advised to residents as soon as possible. In the interim, please accept that CovidCom and the CEO cannot make hasty and/or incorrect decisions which could impact on the health and safety of all residents and staff. 

Unrelated to the above, but in answer to queries received since Level 2 was implemented: 

  • residents are again allowed freedom of movement within South Africa, for whatever reasons 
  • those residents who have been away from their cottage during Lockdown are free to return 
  • at this stage, there is no requirement for residents to be subjected to any form of isolating, on their return 


Food for thought 

  • Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet (Aristotle) 
  • Gratitude turns what we have into enough (author unknown) 
  • “In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer” 

(Albert Camus: French philosopher, author and journalist) 



LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+78(L3)=DAY 144 


President Ramaphosa announced some important Lockdown changes on Saturday night, moving the country to Level 2 and, with it, some critically important opening up of economic sectors and sources of employment. Much of what was announced had been anticipated by CovidCom, and plans were already underway to make some necessary and no doubt welcome changes to the lives of MHA residents, in particular in our ‘independent living’ Villages. Our Managers have been involved in the decision-making process, and in some instances Liaison Committee members have been consulted. 

CovidCom understands and accepts that some of the decisions made since our Lockdown began in late March were not popular, but it was necessary to make decisions which protected the lives of residents and staff, and the valuable impact of those decisions has been proven. We anticipate that some of the decisions which we are now announcing and implementing will not be universally accepted, or be enough, but the best interests of all of our residents and staff are paramount. Likewise, some of the decisions we are making to delay changes may attract criticism. We will adjust and adapt where and how we need to, and CovidCom would welcome comments and suggestions via or via the Managers. 

The following changes will apply from Tuesday 18 August 2020: 


  1. These changes apply only to our ‘independent living’ Villages, and not to Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, Epworth Close, or our two Frail Care facilities. Those have specific needs and requirements, and will be addressed separately, as a matter of urgency 
  2. CovidCom has studied the Government Gazette which gives legal affect to the Lockdown Level 2 changes. It is interesting that a paragraph reads “All visits by members of the public to--older persons’ residential facilities--are prohibited except to the extent and in the manner directed by the relevant Cabinet Minister”. Clarity is being sought from the Department of Social Development in this regard. What is contained in this Newsflash is based on best information at hand, but some facets may have to change 
  3. Under Level 2, residents are again allowed freedom of movement within South Africa (you can now go to the beach, to your gym, or on that postponed getaway!!), and those residents who have been away from their cottage during Lockdown are free to return 
  4. It is critical to remember that Government has the authority to change Level 2 practices if the need arises; for example, if there is a resurgence of infections locally and/or nationally. In the same way, MHA may find it necessary to subsequently adjust some of our own rules and regulations. We all have a critically important role to play in avoiding this; we all need to continue abiding by laws and rules, in these extraordinary times 


  1. Our Village gates are again open to visitors (family or friends) 
  2. The President referred to visitors being allowed in ‘small groups’, and the new Gazette refers to “10 or less in a residence”. CovidCom requests residents to be mindful of safe distancing at all times 
  3. Visitors are required to wear masks (this remains mandatory, and is the law of the land) 
  4. Visitors must respect the privacy of others, must confine themselves to the cottage being visited, and this must apply to children visiting as well. It is up to Village residents to ensure compliance 
  5. Visitors are subject to Government’s 22h00-04h00 curfew. No overnight stays in MHA cottages are allowed unless sanctioned by the Manager in advance 
  6. It is the responsibility of MHA residents to ensure that any outsider visiting them in their cottage is healthy (not showing any Covid-like signs or symptoms), and that sanitizing of hands is carried out on arrival 


  1. CovidCom and the CEO are urgently addressing the issues around privately employed or contracted housekeeping and gardening services (individuals or organizations), as well as the provision of some form of interim housekeeping services arranged by MHA. Contractual, legal and other issues are involved. These service providers are still not allowed in our Villages, but a decision regarding this will be made, and announced, before the end of August. Residents have been most tolerant in this regard, for which we are grateful 
  2. The Village halls will remain shut, other than to access the library or hairdressing salon (where applicable), but a decision regarding re-opening will be made before the end of August 

No one in the MHA family can afford to let his/her guard down, and to fall into the trap of believing that the Lockdown Level 2 laws and rules mean that we’re near the end of the war, and we can become complacent. The opposite applies; we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, and a resurgence is going to happen; it’s just a matter of time and place. The relaxations are to try to save the economy. 

Please let us all work together to get through this pandemic, to survive Lockdown, and to remain healthy. Many residents may need counselling; in this regard please speak to your Manager, so that appropriate counselling can be made available, if required. 

The Board, CovidCom and the Management team thank all residents and staff for their continued support. 

LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+75(L3)=DAY 141 

 This Coronavirus has a mind of its own 

Just when we start believing what politicians, scientists and the media across the world tell us about Covid-19, this vicious virus throws yet another challenge our way, rather like a killer tornado which suddenly changes its path, its velocity, and its swathe of destruction. In South Africa we are also forced to endure farcical side-shows; ongoing under-reporting of cases, changing of minds and direction, corruption and nepotism around supplying healthcare workers with PPEs, and the ban of alcohol and tobacco sales (it is estimated that the alcohol ban is costing this country R200 million per day in lost taxes; enough to pay 1000 teachers’ salaries for an entire year). 

Some MHA residents still don’t take the Covid-19 threat seriously enough, or at all. They continue to defy our Government by inviting outside visitors and family into their cottages, and visit folk outside of their village. CovidCom and the Managers have asked/reminded/pleaded with residents to comply. A few selfish residents have chosen to break the laws of the land and the MHA rules set in place, all imposed with the sole purpose of limiting the inevitable spread of the virus. Some fearful residents have approached CovidCom with a request to adopt a ‘name and shame’ approach to deal with the offenders, but we will not do that. Every single one of our residents and staff has had to make painful sacrifices since Lockdown began in March; some have not even been able to bid a last farewell to loved ones, or to gather together for strength, comfort and support. Many are suffering the psychological and emotional effects of all of this. 

To again emphasize just how unpredictable and destructive Covid-19 is, please consider the following: 

  • Earlier in the week Australia suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with 21 deaths in the state of Victoria. The deaths were all among people over 70, with 16 linked to aged care facilities 
  • Australia’s rate of death in residential aged care is the second highest in the world, behind Canada 
  • Victoria is again under a level of lockdown; in Melbourne, people who are not essential workers may leave their houses only to grocery shop (one person per household per day) or exercise for an hour, and there is a curfew in place from 8pm to 5am 
  • In New Zealand, after going more than 100 days without a new case, four people in Auckland tested positive on Tuesday. In response, their Prime Minister reintroduced level 3 restrictions in Auckland 
  • Worldwide there have been over 21 million cases of Covid-19, with 756,000 deaths. As of today the figures in South Africa are 573,000 cases, and 11,270 deaths. The numbers are rising, and some projections are frightening. 

Within the next few days much of what has been shared in today’s Newsflash may become academic; if Government moves the country to Lockdown Level 2, the ban on visiting, on alcohol and on tobacco might be lifted, saving a broad range of industries and businesses, and the livelihoods of millions of our fellow citizens. CovidCom, in conjunction with the Managers, is weighing up the options regarding allowing visitors and private employees into the Villages, and plotting the safest way forward, within or even outside of Lockdown laws. The voice of residents will also be heard. 

Let us close off with these words: 

  • All of CovidCom’s decisions made thus far, and still to be made until the pandemic has passed, have had one central goal: how best can MHA protect its people; 570 residents, all of whom are Covid-19’s easy targets because of age and health vulnerabilities, and the 112 staff members 
  • The MHA Board, CovidCom and Management have asked this question to residents before, and we now risk asking it yet again: In your everyday behaviour, and in your chosen community, do you want to be a part of the solution or a part of the problem? 
  • Words from American author and speaker Byron Katie resonate well, in the current climate: 

        “We don’t mature through age; we mature in awareness”. 

Our awareness of others, of the threats which this Covid enemy poses, and of how we can work together in a mature manner to defeat it, are what will get us through this nightmare. By the grace of God, thus far we have not lost one person to Covid-19. There is no magical “Head Office”, no latter-day Florence Nightingale or Mother Teresa to ensure that it remains like this: it is largely in the hands of the MHA family; it is actually largely in your hands. 


Make sure you test positive for Faith. Keep distance from Doubt, and isolate from Fear. Trust God through it all. 


Plagues: Learning from history 

Bubonic Plague (Black Death) is caused by a bacterium and transmitted to human beings by bites from infected fleas that live on rats. Its more feared form is Pneumonic Plague, which is characterised by respiratory transmission of the bacteria between human beings. The Plague has devastated human societies since the Byzantine Empire (541-542). It devastated Europe in a second pandemic (1346-1353) and is estimated to have caused the death of 25% of the population. The disease did not disappear after these pandemics but continued for centuries in more localised but still fatal epidemics. A third pandemic started in China in 1855 and then spread to India, on to the Pacific islands and, towards the end of that century, to South America; it caused the death of more than 10 million people before it reach South Africa in 1901. 

PLAGUE: 1901 
During the Anglo Boer War (1898-1902), fodder for military horses had to be imported from Argentina, because of the ‘scorched-earth’ policy. With it into Table Bay came rats and their fleas, laden with Yersinia pestis. Despite aggressive rat hunting, the epidemic took hold: within a year, in Cape Town more than 700 cases of Bubonic Plague had been reported and half had died. The incidence of the plague declined from seventy-five new cases per week in May 1901 to three in September in the same year. It came at a cost: 40% mortality amongst active cases. 

That was not the end of the plague in South Africa; the disease also appeared at other ports of entry and then penetrated inland as it followed the railway transportation routes. The epidemic lingered in South Africa until 1904. 

It started in China’s Wuhan Province in December 2019, possibly via interspecies transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease. Respiratory transmission to other people caused its spread to the rest of the world. On 6 March 2020, COVID-19 arrived in South Africa via travellers returning by air from Europe. On 27 March, South Africa went into nation-wide lockdown: there were 1117 cases of the disease in the country, and a few days later the first patient died of the disease. 

As of today, just 141 days later, South Africa has 573,000 known cases of the disease and 11,270 deaths. What can we learn from history? The virus was accidently brought into the country; it took hold; as a nation we were taken by surprise, given little advance warning; it spreads like wildfire; indiscriminately it causes death and destruction; it lingers; incidence will eventually decline; most of the nation will recover; in many ways we will be able to start over; eventually it will become just another page in history; in some or other form, at some future time in history, it will return. 

(This is an edited version of an article written by a medical Doctor--MB ChB and PhD (Med)--with an interest in pulmonology and respiratory research) 



LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+68(L3)=DAY 134 

Yes, this Newsflash will be repeating some points you have heard before (some may even mutter ‘Yes, ad nauseam’!). Yes, CovidCom is criticized by some for what they perceive as ‘all talk, no action’. Yes, for everyone in the MHA family, our patience and coping mechanisms are almost running on empty. Yes, we’ve all just about had enough! The reality, though, is that this country is almost reaching the pinnacle of the fight against the invisible enemy, the silent assassin; the virus called Covid-19. As a nation, as a city, and as the MHA family, we have come so far in the fight; we have to persevere, to stick together, in order to triumph and survive. Please read on! 

A bestseller WWII book about D-Day called “The Longest Day” is divided into three parts: the first part is titled "The Wait", the second part "The Night" and the third part "The Day". In the fight against Covid-19 we made all the necessary preparations, sacrifices and adjustments during The Wait. We are now into The Night, where fear is amplified, where it’s difficult to see what’s ahead, to differentiate between friend and foe, to make meaningful progress; it’s a time to rely on the preparations and progress already made, and get ready for the final push. Our faith and courage will carry us into The Day; to defeat the enemy, and move to a time and place in the future when we can proclaim victory. 

Where do we find ourselves today? Let’s take stock. As a community, many MHA residents in our villages and bedsitters have reached the point where damaging psychological and emotional cracks are appearing with more frequency, impacting negatively on individuals, and on the community in which they live and on which they rely. Our elderly residents are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the issues of loneliness, uncertainty, fear of being infected or infecting, boredom, isolation, ‘cabin fever’, media overload and rumours, rules and regulations (government and MHA) which interfere with their independence; helplessness, frustration over lack of cleaning and gardening facilities, threat to income; resignation to the prospect of the pandemic stretching into 2021 and maybe even longer, and grieving the loss of people they knew but for whom they cannot properly mourn; the loss of independence, the loss of routine and stimulating events, and the loss of the world as they knew it. Many of these coping challenges equally face our wonderful staff. We, the MHA family, are not alone in this. 

CovidCom is committed to continue making decisions to contain this damage, but we cannot and will not break laws, and we need to move forward with caution. The Government gazette dealing with Lockdown Level 3 prohibits people from visiting friends and families in their homes. That’s the law of the land, and CovidCom has no option other than to abide by that. We know that visiting is happening with MHA village residents; receiving visitors or going out to visit. MHA does not have the capacity to police this, neither should it do so. The current and crazy reality is that the law allows MHA village residents to meet friends and family outside of the Village confines; at the beachfront, in a shopping mall, at a restaurant or casino or at many other busy public places, but not in the relative safety of their own cottage. People are allowed to crowd into a 16-seater taxi yet an individual is prohibited from sitting at home with a next-door neighbour. All of this frustrates and confuses us. 

In the face of all of this, our residents across all our facilities have, almost without exception, been stoic, courageous, accepting, compliant with government/MHA rules and regulations, supportive of one another, and protective of their own and their neighbours’ health, safety and welfare. They are to be commended for that. Bedsitter and Epworth Close residents are significantly worse off, having been locked in since late March. None of this would have been achieved without the magnificent support and dedication of our Managers and all other staff. 

As a country and as a city we are reaching the eye of the Covid-19 storm; the national statistics below tell the harrowing story of what we are dealing with: 

Some members of CovidCom met with the Village Managers on 6 August, and we share the following with you: 

  • It was agreed by all those attending that MHA needs to continue to be proactive but conservative in its decision-making, as it applies to the welfare of residents and staff 
  • Changes need to be made, especially where the psychological and emotional welfare of our Village residents is being adversely affected, but we can’t rush this, or open the floodgates 
  • The four areas which need our ongoing and urgent focus are Visitors, Carers, Private Housekeepers/Domestics, and Private Gardeners. There was considerable and productive debate on all four issues, none of which has a simple solution. As we have explained to residents and/or family, CovidCom will not create precedents by entertaining individual requests, for reasons thoroughly explained (we have 319 cottages and 570 residents to consider) 
  • CovidCom cannot make changes which will knowingly increase the risk of the virus entering our facilities, and we will continue to err on the side of safety, bearing in mind the age and vulnerability of residents 
  • CovidCom is not procrastinating on these issues, but it is not wise to rush into making decisions which may then need to be reversed (Australia and the USA are currently prime examples of that). Continued patience and acceptance is absolutely key here, but ultimately it is a resident’s choice to comply or not, and to be a part of the solution and not the problem. We ask everyone, residents and staff alike, to walk down this road with us. 

MHA’s statistics as at 12h00 today are: 


Let us usher in the weekend with these powerful words from TS Eliot: 

“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life” 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+61(L3)=DAY 127 

CovidCom is not trying to confuse Newsflash readers with the weekly table of statistics; we hope that they are relatively easy to understand. What we are doing is sharing with members of the MHA family the worrying and increasing infection rate; we undertook to keep you in the picture, and we continue to do that. As the graphic alongside says, you need to know! 

Our City and our Province are racing towards the peak in Covid-19 infections; the next six weeks or more are going to be brutal. Hard as MHA has tried to protect residents and staff from infection, this rate increase was and is inevitable. Over the past four months we have shared with you details of the procedures and protocols which we have put into place in order to mitigate the advance of the virus into our facilities, especially our two Frail Care units. As a caring organization, and as the MHA family, we remain so grateful that no resident or staff member has thus far been hospitalized for a Covid-related issue, and no one has succumbed to the virus. Please continue to pray that this remains so. 

Our Covid-19 picture, as of 12h00 today, is: 

CovidCom is reviewing the way it conducts business, on a daily basis. Staff then adapt accordingly. More than ever before, our Village residents need to do everything possible to keep themselves healthy and safe, and out of Covid-19’s way. You know what you need to do---and what to avoid doing, at all costs! In the 16 March 2020 letter addressed to everyone in the MHA family we quoted a GP/Infectious Disease Specialist (identity unknown) who posted this on Facebook: 

  • Stop waiting to be surprised 
  • Temper Fear with Reason/Panic with Patience/Uncertainty with Education 
  • Think of others via clean hands and open hearts 

This is a message worth repeating, especially at this time; a time when patience has worn thin, when fear is mounting, when loneliness can easily take over, when we are blaming bungling politicians and autocratic managers for inconvenient and unpopular decisions, and when we are finding it hard to know just who to believe anymore, or how to cope. 

This is a time for courage and faith, but this is also a time to accept that we must continue making sacrifices. The vast number of our residents have accepted the rules and regulations set by government, and also by CovidCom. On a MHA level, many rules and decisions are not popular (not allowing in visitors, private domestics and gardeners, non-essential carers/companions etc). We urge everyone in the MHA family to understand and accept that CovidCom cannot make exceptions when we are dealing with 319 cottages, and almost 700 people. Please let us all walk this road together. 

Celebration time! 
MHA’s first Village, Cassia Gardens, officially opened on 3 August 1985. 


We are not yet there 

Were you ever guilty of this when you were a child? Your family and you set off on a long road trip by car, perhaps to Cape Town or the Drakensberg, or die ou Transvaal; you had hardly made it to the first dorpie when you asked your Dad, the driver: “Are we there yet?”! According to the dictionary, we use the adverb ‘yet’ in negative statements to indicate that something has not happened up to the present time, although it probably will happen. Most Dads probably just shook their heads, perhaps remembering when they had asked their Dad the same question, and just drove on, anticipating the same question to be repeated at the next town, and the next! 

The quoted statement “We are not yet there” was made by Health Minister Mhkize during a visit to our city last week, in response to questions about whether or not the Eastern Cape Health Department should be taken over and placed under administration. He is reported to have responded that questions of a takeover had come up in parliament but “you take over when you get to a point where there’s a whole breakdown of management, there’s reluctance to follow instructions, there’s an internal inability for people to be co-operative------but I don’t believe we’re there yet”. 

On a daily basis, media reports tell us otherwise; the Eastern Cape Health Department is consistently letting sick people down and putting healthcare workers’ lives at risk, through inadequate facilities, shocking hygiene conditions and insufficient PPE. Cases of infection and death in our Province recently went unrecorded for a whole month, making a mockery of provincial and national statistics in the process. To add insult, today (31 July) is the closing date for applying for 74 essential posts at the 4000-bed Field Hospital in Korsten, funded by the German government, via VWSA. Even with fast-tracking applications, going through the process of sifting, verifying qualifications and the accuracy of essential information provided, and then initial orientation and training, it will be weeks before that Field hospital is running efficiently. This should have commenced weeks, if not months, ago. 

The Health Departments are not yet there? The definition of ‘yet’, shown above, indicates that something probably will happen at some future time. What happened to the word and the undertaking called definitely?! Hospitals should definitely be ready by now; healthcare workers should definitely have all the PPEs they need by now. A robust plan of action should definitely be in place by now. 

Can you imagine if MHA had adopted the “not yet there” approach? 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+54(L3)=DAY 120 

As expected, Covid-19 infections continue to challenge our two Frail Care facilities. Staff remain disciplined in terms of adhering to hygiene regulations and procedures, and they arrive at work, shift after shift, with great courage and with dedication to their calling. As an organization we frequently praise our frontline staff, and every other staff member, for their loyalty and professionalism, but in reality we cannot do enough praising and thanking. So, whenever you come across a MHA staff member, please give them a warm smile, a thumbs-up, and the promise of a hug when the Coronavirus monster eventually allows us. They all richly deserve that! 

We remain grateful that every staff member and resident who has contracted the virus, to date, has recovered. 

Summary (as at 12h00 on 24 July 2020): 

 MHA continues to incur unbudgeted costs in the war against Covid-19, and we remain so grateful that we have the financial ability to absorb these. Up to 30 June 2020 we have spent: 

Transport of Frail Care staff                          R 176,000 
Relief staff                                                     R 102,000 
COVID tests                                                  R 142,000 
Sanitizing of facilities                                     R 108,000 
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)            R 70,000 
“Risk Allowance” paid to FC staff/Managers   R 74,000 
                                                                      R 672,000 


Arise, Captain Sir Thomas Moore!! 

In the 30 April 2020 Newsflash we acknowledged the 100th birthday of Captain Tom Moore, England’s fundraising hero. 

Last Friday, 17 July 2020, on a beautiful midsummer’s day, Capt. Tom was invested as a Knight Bachelor at Windsor Castle. The ceremony was performed by 94-year-old Queen Elizabeth II; wonderful media images showed two kindred spirits, both having been on active service during WWII, both in good health, and both obviously enjoying the uniqueness of the occasion; it was held outdoors, and at a time in history where Covid-19 has prevented other investitures. The Queen invited him to tea, but he declined (he had a prior engagement!). 

Gardeners and Housekeepers: 
Our Managers are still being asked by residents for permission to allow privately-employed gardeners and domestic housekeepers back to work. CovidCom made a decision that privately employed personnel would not be allowed to return to any MHA facilities; this decision remains in force, and in all likelihood will continue until after the infection rate flattens. 

MHA Management continues to consider ways in which the gardening/cleaning needs of residents can be safely addressed, even if partially. In the meantime we ask that you respect the decision, taken with the best interests of residents’ wellbeing in mind. 


“Everybody has a summer holiday/Doin' things they always wanted to” 

Do you remember “Summer Holiday”, a 1963 film starring Cliff Richard? It was about three young men who persuaded their London Transport employers to lend them a double-decker bus; they converted it into a holiday caravan, which they drove across Europe. The film was a box-office hit, had a few catchy songs, but very forgettable! Sir Cliff, born Harry Rodger Webb, will celebrate his 80th birthday on 14th October! Tempus fugit  

Do you even remember what a holiday was?! Our locked-down lives crave for ‘a holiday’; to go to The Willows or van Stadens River Mouth for the day or for a weekend, to go to the Mountain Zebra Park or to Kruger, to travel down the Garden Route or to see the flowers in Namaqualand, to drive through the Karoo, or even to go overseas to visit new places or see family and friends. Right now, we will happily even label a day trip somewhere, or a visit to the seaside, as ‘a holiday’! We know that some or all of these will be possible again in the future (mid-2021?), but for now we must stow away our suntan lotions and cameras, our beach towels and cozzies, our anoraks and beanies, our passports and road maps, and stay safe and healthy in and around our homes, until the Covid-19 storm has passed. 

On a sombre note, our not being able to go on ‘a holiday’, or others coming here for a holiday, has impacted horrendously on the tourism industry. South Africa is listed as one of the top 15 countries that is being impacted by the near-closure of the international travel industry during the pandemic, and it is predicted that this country’s economy will lose at least 3% of its GDP as a result of the impact on the tourism industry. In the worst-case scenario, this could result in a GDP reduction of 8%. We are at number nine on the list of the 15 most impacted countries; some of the others are Mauritius, Ireland, Egypt, Spain, Jamaica, Thailand, Croatia, Portugal and Greece. 

Jamaica will be the hardest hit in the world. With tourist spending making up 20% of the Caribbean island’s current GDP, its best-case scenario is an 11% reduction in GDP. In the worst case, Jamaica’s GDP could reduce by an almost unbelievable 32%. Projections are based on three possible scenarios: a lockdown lasting four months; one lasting eight months; and one lasting twelve months. The impact on the global tourism industry, in the worst-case scenario, is a staggering US$3.3 trillion. Hotels remain empty, and cruises liners, airplanes, tour busses and staff stand idle. 

Yes, sombre news indeed, but tourism and travel will return; we just don’t know when. In the short-term, if we are able to, let us just celebrate being able to venture out to watch the whales off Schoenies, or the elephants at Addo, or the variety of wildlife at Kragga Kamma Game Park (50% discount for pensioners on a Wednesday!!). As the Roman philosopher Seneca said: “The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately”. This should help to keep us positive and focused in these negative and uncertain times ;-)

PS: Spare a thought for John and Liz Machin of Cassia Gardens. They went to New Zealand in February to visit family, and they remain stuck there, still unable to get a flight home. We wish them well! 


Be courageous!! 

We leave you with these four comforting and inspiring lines from the hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus”: 

Have we trials and temptations?/Is there trouble anywhere?/We should never be discouraged/Take it to the Lord in prayer 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+47(L3)=DAY 113 

 Across the world, and within MHA, it has been apparent for some while now that Covid-19 is a vicious and unpredictable virus, and you ignore it at your peril. If not taken seriously it will wreak havoc, as it has done and is doing. America and Italy are classic but tragic examples. Equally, if it is confronted head-on with courage, discipline, resources and an intelligent battle plan, victories are possible. 

This time last week your Newsflash painted a worrying picture; infections within the MHA family were escalating at quite an alarming rate, despite the best efforts of everyone. The infection tally had risen to 29 residents and staff, in total. Today we can share a very different picture: 

This tells us that, as of now, a total of 31 members of the MHA family have shown symptoms of being infected with the virus (19 staff and 12 residents). Of those, 23 have been through the mandatory ‘isolation’ period, and have recovered and been de-isolated, and 8 are still in isolation. No hospitalization has been required, and there have been no Covid-related deaths. We must continue to thank God for His protection, but we must also acknowledge that the procedures and practices which have been put in place by CovidCom, and executed so diligently and professionally by each and every staff member, have been a major contributing factor in this war, to date. 

We cannot be complacent, and this is no time for celebrating. The worst is still to come. We must continue to persevere, to be on our guard, and to be disciplined in protecting ourselves and others. All staff and all residents have sacrificed so much over the past four months; we pray that you will be given the strength and courage to continue to fight Covid-19 in this way. Thank you. 

Seneca was a Roman philosopher who lived 2000 years ago. His wisdom and his works are still quoted today. Three sayings attributed to Seneca resonate loudly today, in the context of what we have reported above, about Covid-19: 

There are more things that frighten us than injure us, and we suffer more in imagination than in reality 

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end 

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity 

Looking ahead; praying for change; staying positive 

Our President appears trapped; this is the time in our country’s history, and in his life as our Commander-in-Chief, when he has to display bolder leadership, act decisively, get rid of all the grossly incompetent people in positions of power, put the people first and his political career second, and speak frequently to the people. We must hope that, like with Churchill, he will be remembered for carrying a nation through a terrible war, and not for the people he protected or trod on or abandoned. This is not a political commentary, but a statement of fact. President Ramaphosa’s challenge is the challenge of other world leaders too; people first, career second (and yes, as with Churchill, even if his political career grinds to a halt once the war has been won). 

So how does this tie in with the book cover shown alongside? “Catch-22”, published in 1961, is often cited as one of the most significant novels of the twentieth century. Set in WWII, it examines the absurdity of war and military life through the experiences of the anti-hero Capt. John Yossarian and his cohorts, who attempt to maintain their sanity while serving, so that they may return home. It is also famous for coining the universally used noun “Catch-22”, describing: 

  • a frustrating situation in which one is trapped by contradictory regulations or conditions 
  • any illogical or paradoxical problem or situation; dilemma 
  • a condition or regulation, preventing the resolution of a problem or situation; catch. 

This is where our President appears to find himself; he’s in a Catch-22 situation. He must return to making bold and courageous decisions, instead of trying to please those who are waiting in the wings to wrestle power away from him, or to protect their own agendas, schemes and arrangements. If he is brave enough to do this (his track records says he is, but his message to the nation on Sunday 12 July lacked courage and conviction) then there is a good chance that: 

  • the people of this country will return to behaving responsibly during these critical Lockdown days 
  • those with delegated authority (Health, Police, Army, Economy, Governance) will do what is right for all, not just for some 
  • he will intervene in the shambles called the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality and its council; the rot is palpable 
  • he will bring a team to the Eastern Cape to sort out the terrible mess, once and for all. A journalist recently wrote the following about our Province: 

“The crises we are experiencing are not the making of Covid-19: It is the confluence of years of corruption, inefficiency, maladministration and cadre deployment at every level of provincial and local government. It was a collapse waiting to happen. It took a tiny, malicious virus to bring us to the brink. The Eastern Cape needs a new dawn. It needs a deep cleansing of its government and a national plan to make that happen. The province needs a strong voice, the president’s, preferably, that says enough is enough – not one who waves happily while driving around a parking lot in a dodgy ‘medical scooter’”. 

Let us all look ahead; pray for changes; stay positive; be a part of the solution and not the problem. Let us also continue to live in community and move forward in faith, as the MHA family, and remain mindful of the plight of others less fortunate. If we don’t do these, we won’t win the battles and the war, and defeat the enemy on our terms. Those who have chosen to live in the Eastern Cape and in Nelson Mandela Bay, especially the elderly and the vulnerable, deserve more; deserve better. 


2019: stay away from negative people 

2020: stay away from positive people 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+40(L3)=DAY 106 

Within CovidCom and amongst our staff we knew that the day would come when the COVID-19 monster would visit MHA; we just didn’t know when, where or how. We worked tirelessly to prepare for the challenges, and we are confident that we have done everything in our power and used all resources to delay the inevitable onset of infections and ‘positive’ test results. It is cold comfort to say this, but we truly believe that the high level of our preparedness is a major reason why MHA has endured over four months of the threat of the dreaded virus entering one or more of our facilities. Also, as Psalm 23 reminds us, this formidable ‘valley’ is one that we have to walk along, together; our faith in God will keep us alive, and carry us through! 

But the virus is here, in MHA’s midst, as the statistics below will show. It comes at a time when the pandemic is accelerating out of control in South Africa; Lockdown measures are now virtually useless. It also comes at a time when SA has become the world-leader in the ‘doubling rate’ category; this particular rate is used to determine how fast COVID-19 cases take to ‘double’ from a certain date, and SA’s has reached an average of 14 days. Put simply, if SA’s daily infection rate was 5000 people on 1 July, it will climb to 10000 people by 14 July, and 20000 per day by 28 July, and so on. SA has registered more COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks than it did in the previous 12 weeks of lockdown; yesterday alone there were 13734 new cases reported. This is truly frightening, but it is never too late to say this again: wear a mask, sanitize, practice social distancing, restrict or avoid visiting, go shopping as seldom as you can; support and encourage those you know who are frightened or lonely or alone or struggling to cope with these abnormal times; keep yourselves as active and as healthy as you can; and pray for your own safety, pray for our staff and their loved ones, pray for your neighbours, and pray for our City’s residents, especially those who are also fighting hunger, poverty and the onset of winter. 

As at 11h30 on Friday 10 July 2020 the known Covid-19 infection statistics within MHA are (previous week in brackets): 

  • CP Bradfield Frail Care staff=11 (10) 
  • CP Bradfield Frail Care residents=2 (0) 
  • Maranatha Frail Care staff=5 (2) 
  • Maranatha Frail Care residents (3 now de-isolated)=6 (3) 
  • Maranatha Village staff=1 (0) 
  • Nurse/carer Agency staff=0 (1) 
  • Maintenance Team staff=1 (0) 
  • Bob Zeiss Bedsitters resident (now de-isolated)=1 (1) 
  • Aldersgate resident=1 (1) 
  • Epworth Close resident (not on site)=1 (0) 

            TOTAL    29 

All the infected cases were confirmed by the standard swab test undertaken by Ampath Laboratories (a nurse uses a long ‘ear bud’ device to collect a small sample of saliva from the back of the throat). Staff who have tested positive (they carry the virus in their systems) do not report for duty during the mandatory quarantine period, and all positive residents are in self-isolation, or in one of our isolation facilities, until the mandatory isolation period is over, and it is safe for them to be de-isolated. 

A frequently asked question is: What is the difference between Symptomatic and Asymptomatic? To answer this we should throw Presymptomatic into the mix! 

Simply put, this is what the definitions mean: 

Symptomatic: the person presents with symptoms such as fever, headache, cough, at the time that the virus was isolated from his/her throat (the swab test) 
Presymptomatic: the person presents with NO symptoms such as fever, headache, cough, at the time that the virus was isolated from his/her throat, but develops symptoms later 
Asymptomatic: the person never develops symptoms, even though the virus was isolated. 

CovidCom also wishes to share the following with you: 

  • No Residents’ Meetings will be held in August. Please delete this from your diary 
  • Regarding the facility for receiving visitors at CP Bradfield Frail Care or Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, so that residents, family and friends can once again see each other face-to-face, this is in the final stages of preparation. Clearly defined and disciplined protocols and supervision first need to be put in place, and this is urgent work in progress 
  • Village halls will still remain closed, other than for library/hair salon access. We totally understand the importance of the halls to community life, and CovidCom is liaising with the Managers in this regard. Your safety comes first 
  • No private gardeners or domestic housekeepers will be allowed to return to work for the forseeable future 
  • We have purchased 3 pulse oximeters (a small electronic device, attached to a finger, that estimates the saturation of oxygen in a person’s blood, and measures the heart rate) 
  • Pathology laboratories across the country are swamped, and cannot cope with Covid-19 testing. Added to this is the fact that a test is just an indicator of a person’s status (testing positive or negative) at a point in time; a person can be swab-tested on a Monday, get the (negative) result on Friday, but contract the virus (undetected) on the Wednesday. CovidCom is urgently reviewing the extent to which testing is still going to be carried out, and professional advice has been sought. We will continue to do everything in our power to identify infections, and to isolate those involved. 

This weekly “Need to know” section is longer than usual, or desired, but it is critically important for all MHA residents, staff and those within the wider MHA family, to know what is happening regarding Covid-19 inside our facilities and, equally important, what CovidCom and the rest of the team are doing to address the new challenges which come at us hourly. 


Ten fundamental rules for seniors: 

1. Talk to yourself. There are times when you need expert advice 
2. “In style” are the clothes that still fit 
3. “One for the road” means going to the loo before you leave the house 
4. Your people skills are just fine. It’s your tolerance for idiots that needs work 
5. The biggest lie you tell yourself: “I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember it” 
6. “On time” is when you get there 
7. It would be wonderful if we could put ourselves in the tumble-dryer for 10 minutes, 

then come out wrinkle-free and three sizes smaller 

8. Lately, have you noticed people your age are so much older than you? 
9. Growing old should have taken longer 
10. You still haven’t learnt to act your age, and hope you never will. 



LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+33(L3)=DAY 99 


Some of the CovidCom members met on Tuesday 30 June 2020. We share with you some of what was discussed and agreed: 

  •  Infection statistics within MHA, updated daily, would be shared with residents every Friday, via the Newsflash 
  •  As at 13h00 on Friday 03 July 2020 the known Covid-19 infection statistics within MHA are: 

             - CP Bradfield Frail Care staff=11 (precautionary testing of all residents done; results awaited)
             - Maranatha Frail Care staff=3 
             - Nurse/carer Agency staff-1
             - Bob Zeiss Bedsitters resident=1
             - Aldersgate resident=1 
             - Residents de-isolated in the past week=3 

  • Any resident who tests positive, and who must go into self-isolation, must be identified by the Manager to inform fellow residents in his/her facility (village or bedsitters). To expand on this: 
  • There is no shame or stigma attached to being tested positive (it’s an air-borne virus) 
  • MHA has a duty to inform fellow residents in the infected person’s facility only, not beyond 
  • Sharing the information will be limited to: 

           o XXX (name) has tested positive 
           o Respect that he/she is obliged to self-isolate in his/her cottage/room for 14 days 
           o NO visitors are allowed 
           o Offer him/her encouragement, your prayers, and any assistance, practising social distancing 
           o A follow-up test will be carried out after 14 days, after which he/she is then de-isolated 

  • All the Village halls would remain closed until further notice 
  • Visitors coming into any facility would still not be allowed, until further notice 
  • Domestic housekeepers (MHA staff or private): it was agreed that the CEO would address a letter to every Village resident (since done) 
  • All the necessary procedures and protocols are in place to deal with Frail Care and Bedsitter residents who become infected. 

CovidCom and staff are doing everything possible to keep residents and themselves healthy, and to prevent the Covid-19 virus from entering any of MHA’s facilities. This requires a Herculean effort, and equally requires co-operation and some significant sacrifices by residents. This is what we have all been doing since the middle of March, and these efforts and sacrifices cannot be underestimated; they are largely what kept the Covid monster away for so long. We all knew that the virus would eventually come into our facilities. CovidCom and staff accept this; there’s no point in looking backwards; there’s no point in dissecting what we did or didn’t do right; no one is to blame; we just roll up our sleeves, and get back onto the battleground. Every day our nursing and caring staff finds ways to do their duties better, more effectively, and to protect themselves and those they care for. We will continue to do this, every single day, until the war is over. 

Please continue to praise and pray for all of our staff, our frontliners, as they fight on behalf of those who cannot. 

The sacred space 

Rev George Irvine of Aldersgate submitted this beautiful, thought-provoking piece, which we share with you now, with his permission: 

Living in the Already and the Not Yet is the sacred space we all inhabit.
Living in the Already we can appreciate the air we breathe. We can savour the food we eat, we can smell the flowers along our path. 
Living in the Already we can listen to a friend, letting that person tell their story without interrupting her or him. We can embrace a spouse, or say sorry when we need to and forgive when we have been hurt. 
Living in the Already we can celebrate that the special things in life are free, and come to know how grateful we are for what we have been given. 
Living in the Not Yet means knowing that not everyone is healed from debilitating illnesses. Living in the Not Yet means knowing that bad things happen to good people. 
Living in the Not Yet means that evil still has power to corrupt, shatter and destroy. 

There are two insights that stay with me. 
One is that if I am not careful, living in the Not Yet depresses me and makes my life unbearable, so each morning I am learning to celebrate the Already. 

But what about the Not Yet? 
Here is my second insight. The Not Yet will not last forever. I have come to see over the years that good is stronger than evil, that love is stronger than hate. I guess that this is what St. Paul was getting at when he wrote: “The kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and Christ.” 


Give me strength! 

A visiting pastor attended a men’s breakfast in the middle of a rural farming area of the country. The group had asked an older farmer, decked out in bib overalls, to say grace for the morning breakfast. 

“Lord, I hate buttermilk”, the farmer began. The visiting pastor opened one eye to glance at the farmer, and wondered where this was going. 

The farmer loudly proclaimed “Lord, I hate lard”. Now the pastor was growing concerned. 

Without missing a beat, the farmer continued “And Lord, I know that I don’t care much for raw white flour”. The pastor once again opened his eye to glance around the room and saw that he wasn’t the only one feeling uncomfortable. 

Then the farmer added “But Lord, when you mix them all together and bake them, I do love warm, fresh biscuits. So Lord, when things come up that we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we don’t understand what you’re saying to us, help us to just relax and wait until you are done mixing. It will probably be even better than biscuits. Amen” 

Within that prayer there is great wisdom for all when it comes to complicated situations like we are experiencing in the world today. Stay strong, everyone, because our Lord is mixing several things that we don’t really care for, but something even better is going to come when He is done with it. 


“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion” 

“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves” 

“Because that’s what kindness is. It’s not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can” 



LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+26(L3)=DAY 92 


A short video is currently going around town, and no doubt way beyond. It’s ‘star’ is a well-known, well respected and much loved medical Specialist, shown lying on a gurney, being wheeled out of a Port Elizabeth hospital, on his way to being reunited with loved ones waiting for his return home. The Specialist had been in ICU for a long time, close to death, on and off a ventilator, while other Specialists, Doctors and dedicated nursing staff fought day and night to save him from becoming a victim of Covid-19. He has survived, and many, many people will be wishing him a complete recovery, and a return to his practice. This alone is a story worth sharing, an event worth celebrating. 

However, apart from the sheer joy of the occasion, what is remarkable about the video is that it shows two long rows of nursing and caring staff lining the passage and foyer between the Specialist’s ward and the exit doors, all clapping and cheering and waving, and shouting words of encouragement and affection. Even more remarkable is the brief speech at the exit doors, given by a senior nurse; on behalf of her colleagues, she thanked him for blessing them with his presence there, for his healing, for being a much loved member of the hospital ‘family’ for many years, and for recovering from the deadly virus. The Specialist gave a repeated thumbs-up sign and joining his hands in prayer; if he hadn’t been wearing a mask he may have even said some words himself, to give grateful thanks to them! 

We can all hope and pray that every day, across the city, the country and the world, those who have been infected with Covid-19 can leave a hospital, and go on the road to full recovery. Very few would receive such ‘star’ treatment as they leave, but we know that every life is important, all lives matter, and every life saved is a victory. 

The video is a timely reminder to everyone in the MHA family to pause for a while, to stop doing what keeps us busy and occupied, to stop worrying about the virus which is right in front of us, and to give our own grateful thanks to nursing, caring and support staff everywhere, but particularly our MHA angels. All of them report for duty each day or night, dedicating themselves to looking after the health and the various needs of our elderly residents who can no longer do that adequately themselves. We are increasingly needing to use the services of an agency to provide additional trained nursing and caring staff, and we thank them. We are totally reliant on cleanliness and hygiene provided by our dedicated and professional Housekeeping staff, and we thank them. Our outsourced Catering staff provide nutritious food for residents who no longer prepare their own meals, and we thank them. They have been doing a magnificent job to serve food to our Bedsitter residents who are currently isolated in their rooms, while they await the results of swab-testing for the virus. 

Sister Lesley Lawson, a Board member who has had a long and distinguished career in the nursing profession, has also seen the video, and she has contributed this message: 

An extract from the Nurses Pledge of Service: “I solemnly pledge myself to the service of humanity and will endeavour to practice my profession with conscience and with dignity”. 

We thank our Nurses and Carers who commit themselves every day to honouring this pledge. 

To all our nursing, caring and support staff, from the carers seconded from our Nikithemba team to the Matrons and our Nursing Services Manager: 

  • We salute your dedication 
  • We thank you for your commitment to caring for others 
  • We thank you for your professionalism, and for the skills you have learnt and apply 
  • We thank you for your courage 
  • And we pray for God’s continued protection over you, and your loved ones. 


CovidCom reported in last week’s Newsflash that the COVID-19 virus was now present inside one of our facilities. It has been decided that this “NEED TO KNOW” item in the Newsflash will be featured in every edition, to keep residents and staff, and members of the wider MHA family, fully informed of what is happening across all of our facilities. Since CovidCom was formed in early March, and the Newsflashes began to flow, we have believed in communicating to everyone in a clear and transparent way. It is critically important for residents and staff to know what is happening within MHA; it is only in this way that all of us can play our part in fighting the battle which is currently raging. By being informed, you will understand what lies behind some of the decisions being taken, what actions have been implemented to best fight the ever-changing war, or what remains ‘work in progress’. We want to spread the same message to staff and residents alike. Because of the rate at which the scenario is changing, our report will, of necessity, be brief and to the point. if you require clarification, please speak to your Manager, or e-mail 

We share the following today: 

  • The total number of swab tests carried out and submitted to Ampath pathologists=141 (awaiting 65 results) 
  • The total number of positive cases as at 13h00 on 26 June 2020 are: 
    1. Maranatha Frail Care=3 residents and 1 staff member 
    2. Bedsitters=1 staff member (which is why all Bedsitter residents were also swab-tested) 
    3. Aldersgate=1 resident 
  • Thankfully, all those infected with the virus are currently asymptomatic (showing no signs of illness) 
  • Staff who tested positive have been sent home, on full sick leave pay, to self-isolate for 14 days 
  • The resident who has tested positive has been instructed to self-isolate in the cottage (NO visitors) 
  • Frail Care/Bedsitter residents who return after hospitalization go to the MHA Isolation Ward for 14 days 
  • Other than for short-term post-hospital nursing care, the Isolation Ward is not available to Cottage residents; MHA does not have the facilities or capacity to handle Covid+ residents who are sick. Those who require isolation must do so in their cottage or, on advice from their GP, be moved to an available hospital. We cannot sugar-coat this reality, and it further emphasizes the need for all residents to be disciplined in wearing a mask, sanitizing, social distancing, being responsible about visiting and socializing, and not receiving any visitors other than fellow residents 
  • While the important issue of Domestic Cleaners (MHA employees or private) remains under review, the rapid increase in the spread of the virus is such that Cleaning services will not resume until at least end-October. A range of interim measures is being considered, and information will be shared soon 
  • In response to some queries, we should clarify that it is not compulsory to wear a mask when you are moving about your village, but it is the law of the land to wear a mask whenever you are in a public space, beyond your village. We do, however, recommend that you wear a mask as a matter of habit; it is a critical first-line barrier 
  • On a daily basis, limited to as few minutes as possible, keep informed about the spread of the virus in our Metro; it is escalating at a frightening pace, and infections doubled in the past ten days. Our hospitals are full. This is war; it is not a drill 



LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+19(L3)=DAY 85 

 Celebrating a half century in style!! 

Think about how much has happened, and how our lives have been changed, since Newsflash #01 was issued on 27 March 2020?! All of us, within the MHA family but also across the world, have been gripped by fear, uncertainty and a deepening sense of loss. The tragic deaths to Covid-19 are now an everyday event; we have almost become numb to the statistics and the stories. So too have we become numb to the repeated bungling, sloppy management and disagreement among most of the decision-makers in Government; you can visit/no you can’t; you can buy cigarettes/no you can’t; you can go back to school/no you can’t----and on it goes. So today, 85 days into Lockdown, we celebrate the 50th edition of Newsflash!

The President’s address to the nation on Wednesday night only gave us a glimpse of what Lockdown relaxations we can expect in the coming days; he will leave it to the circus performers to entertain us with their decisions. Don’t hold your breath; it’s bad for your health! 

CovidCom met yesterday, to discuss a range of issues, and we can share some of the outcomes with you. On certain key matters affecting you, the residents, we have to wait for final clarity from Government, which we anticipate will be available in the next few days. The following will be of interest to you, as they will have a significant impact on your lives as residents, and should be reason enough for muted celebration!! 

  • With immediate effect CovidCom is lifting the ban on your visiting one another in your cottages. You are free to visit one another as you wish; it remains your responsibility to ensure safe distancing 
  • Lockdown Level 3 rules do not allow receiving visitors from outside (family and friends), but we remain hopeful that there will be clarity on this from Government in the coming days 
  • Hairdressing services (by Rae Smith) at AnnesleyGardens/Sheariton and at Aldersgate will resume as soon as the necessary health/safety protocols have been agreed with her. We expect this to happen early next week. Unfortunately Rae will still not be able to use the salon at Bedsitters, used by their residents and by Cassia Gardens and CP Bradfield. We will continue to address this matter in the hope of finding a workable solution 
  • Lockdown Level 3 regulations do not allow gatherings, and so we are still not allowed to unlock our community halls (other than for limited access to the hairdressing salons). We all desperately hope that the rules will change in the coming days, and you’ll be able to resume this essential part of community life which the halls bring. Watch this space! 
  • Regarding MHA’s Domestic Housekeeping services and/or private employees, this difficult issue is still being addressed by CovidCom, in consultation with the Complex Managers. Various scenarios and solutions are under consideration. Until informed to the contrary, no Domestic services (private or MHA) will resume 

CovidCom hopes to clarify most of the above issues soon, and that we will be able to make announcements via the Bulk SMS facility, rather than wait for next Friday’s Newsflash. 


The value of friends and family 

Christopher Hitchens, lauded public intellectual and a controversial public figure, said this: 

" I am at the stage of my life where I can still make friends but I will never make old friends again” 

That might be a chronological fact, but it is surely never too late to forge meaningful, supportive, loving friendships; it’s the depth, not the length, that matters! We won’t know unless we try! 

Maybe we should rather embrace this saying: “Family and Friends are the only currencies capable of lasting wealth”

MHA’s war against Covid-19 
CovidCom brings you up to date as follows, insofar as matters relating to the MHA family is concerned: 

  • Three further Covid-positive cases have been recorded at Maranatha Frail Care, following swab-tests of all residents and staff there. All three cases (two residents and one employee) are thankfully asymptomatic (showing no symptoms of Covid-19) 
  • We all need to understand and accept that testing of a resident or a staff member only provides a snapshot at a point in time, and some results would be different at any time thereafter 
  • Our CEO, Hein Barnard, reported to CovidCom yesterday that some members of his immediate and extended family have tested positive, and are self-isolating at home. All are asymptomatic. Hein is taking all necessary steps to ensure that he is not exposed, but is isolating himself at home for fourteen days. We have plans in place to deal with this 
  • An additional taxi has been hired, to avoid crowding in the transport which MHA provides for its Frail Care shifts 
  • Encouraging and supporting our wonderful and dedicated staff is even more critical than ever, in these Covid times. MHA is continually seeking ways to achieve this 
  • The Covid-19 virus is now all around our city, escalating daily at a dramatic rate. On 1 May there were 5951 infections and 116 deaths. On 1 June the figures were 33043 infections and 700 deaths. Today the figures are 83890 infections and 1737 deaths All of our hospitals are full. This requires all of us to be even more vigilant than we have been; it is essential that we limit social visits, trips to public places like shops and malls, and that we exercise precautionary behaviours as we have done for the past 85 days and more. This is not a drill; this is war. 

Please continue to keep all members of the MHA family in your daily prayers. In these challenging times we all need support, protection and encouragement; and prayers. 

More reasons to celebrate! 
CovidCom has received a lovely, handwritten letter from Noreen Dymond of Aldersgate. With her permission, we share a slightly edited version (for space purposes!) with you now: 

“This is a letter of Thanksgiving and Thankfulness, firstly to my Lord God and Saviour, and secondly to Methodist Homes for all that has been done for me over the past years. 

2020 is a very special year for me. In March I turned 90, and on 19 June (today!) I celebrate 25 years at Aldersgate. Quite unbelievable! 

My experience with Methodist Homes was quite unique. Although not ready for an ‘old age home’, in December 1994 my husband and I enquired about putting our names down at Wesley Gardens. The waiting list there was 5 years, but building of phase 2 at Aldersgate was underway, with only 3 cottages left. We were given 24 hours to decide; we hadn’t seen a cottage, but only a plan. At church we were told of a missionary who asked God for guidance about whether he should move to another place. God gave him the verse given to Abraham where He told him: ‘It is time or you to pick up your tent and move on’. It was like a gun going off in my head; I got such a fright. Here was my answer! 

We moved in on 19 June 1995, while other cottages were still being built around us. I am so glad I obeyed God’s word. When I look back I see God’s plan for my life and how everything has unfolded. I thank God every night for my beautiful home, village and security. Not having children to help me I am so blessed to have friends here who are willing to help me with shopping and other things. Also for the love and care of Susan and Jannie. 

I feel for you, and pray every day for help and guidance as you seek to look after our needs and security, especially now with this pandemic. Thank you also for the peace and assurance given me that I will be cared for until the lord calls me Home. 

God’s blessings on you and your families, and Methodist Homes” 

Bless you, Noreen. What a beautiful way to start the weekend!! 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+12(L3)=DAY 78 

 Please give a damn 

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" is a line from the 1939 film ‘Gone with the Wind’ starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. The line is spoken by Rhett Butler (Gable), as his last words to Scarlett O'Hara (Leigh), in response to her tearful question: "Where shall I go? What shall I do?" Scarlett clings to the hope that she can win him back, but Rhett has finally given up on her and their tumultuous relationship. He’s moving on!! 

With all the racial tension around the death of George Floyd (Black) at the hands of a policeman (White) in the USA, which has spilled over across the world, this iconic film has been withdrawn from at least one major network which the public can access to watch films; they have said that the racial background to the story (read slaves and servants) is inappropriate at this time, and would just add fuel to the ‘race’ fire. On this basis, all of history will have to be re-written which is, of course, impossible. We can’t re-write history; we can only learn from it. 

What is becoming an increasing worry and a crisis is that, in South Africa but especially in our City, there is an attitude about COVID-19 which can probably best be summed up like this: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. Some examples: 

  • Visiting with friends and families is becoming commonplace, and is even bragged about on Facebook or Instagram 
  • A mask is no longer regarded as a life-saving piece of equipment; it is now just a nuisance or a little neck scarf 
  • When people and alcohol mix, common sense seems to go down the drain; street parties, socializing, abuse, accidents 
  • Keeping a safe distance from one another is being ignored (in a photo in today’s Herald, the Provincial Premier and the Transport MEC are in earnest discussion at a funeral; they are literally within kissing range, and no masks!) 

Fortunately there are far more compliant citizens than those who won’t comply, and we must be grateful for this. The above list of examples could fill two pages, but let’s stop here, and get to the point. To borrow from Clark Gable’s famous line: “Frankly, my dears, the Board and Management and CovidCom do give a damn”. Here’s why: 

  • Up to now, the vast majority of MHA residents have been courageous in dealing with Lockdown and everything else never experienced before discipline, and abiding by the laws, rules and regulations, is praiseworthy 
  • CovidCom has put in place all the people, practices, protocols and documents needed to prepare ourselves for war 
  • Hygiene and sanitization practices are world-class, and are maintained 
  • For almost three months we have gone about our daily business, keeping the Coronavirus monster from our doors 
  • So far, so good---or so we thought. 

Suddenly, everything has changed. The virus is no longer knocking at the MHA door; sadly, it is now inside. Two residents recently spent time in hospital and then rehabilitation. One has since returned to a MHA facility. Both residents showed some flu-like symptoms in the past few days and were tested for Covid-19. Both tests are positive; they have the virus. The residents are being professionally handled, and today both have temperatures in the normal range. Using the Standard Operating Procedure manual which we created to guide us through this very nightmare, MHA is managing the situation by adhering to those procedures, to the letter, and to the practices laid down by the Department of Health. 

We knew that this day would come; we just didn’t know when. The past months of preparation and professional nursing/caring practices have paid dividends, but we cannot and will not drop our guard. We remain vigilant; we remain professional; we remain committed. 

What can you, the residents, do to help? Please continue to maintain the healthy behaviours you have embraced, and which don’t need repeating here. 

Please continue to be a part of the solution, not the problem. We’re not even near the middle of the storm yet. 

And yes: please give a damn!! 


Spare a thought; say a prayer 

Look around you and you will see countless act of courage, humanity, caring, concern for others, and love. It is everywhere! 

As members of the MHA family you live in a supportive, caring community but you may not be aware of some of what is happening beyond your perimeter fences (in a way that’s good, because it indicates that you’re not wandering too far!). 

Today we want to share this with you: 

  • Jenny van Niekerk, our Cassia Gardens Manager, was in a serious motor accident last Saturday. She spent some time in ICU, then a general ward, but has been discharged from hospital and is making a steady recovery, in isolation 
  • The Matron on duty, who took the phone call which told her that a resident had tested positive, had been dreading that day, but she knew it would come at some stage. She was prepared for it; she knew what needed to happen; she did her duty 
  • Spare a thought too for the families of the two residents who were tested positive; they too must have been dreading the day when they might receive a call. The Matron made the call in a compassionate way, and followed up 
  • Our CEO, his Management team and the Matrons are spending exceptionally long hours waging the war against the virus; when they’re not working, they’re worrying, planning, checking, encouraging, and going about their daily tasks too 
  • Our nursing and caring staff are working in circumstances for which only the most basic of training must have been received in the past. They are now proficient at working in a ‘pandemic’ environment, working shift after shift to ensure that the residents in their care are safe, comfortable, warm and loved. We can never thank them enough 
  • Winter is here; it’s dark when most of our staff leave home, and dark when they return home. Let us be mindful of the services delivered by our nursing/caring/cleaning/gardening staff, and let us also be mindful of their families 
  • Some of our residents have family or extended family members who have contracted the virus, and who have had to endure the illness and the uncertainty. Our thoughts should be with those residents and family members too. 

We have so much to be grateful for. 


We’re back; I’m back!! 

A personal note: As expected, and as planned (as much as one can plan anything nowadays), the past week has been a busy one. I got stuck into other projects which were keeping me awake at night (largely completed), Penny and I sat on a bench and had a sandwich at Schoenies (yes, the sea is still there, and still blue!), and I have done a bit of cooking (a lamb neck curry is bubbling away in the slow-cooker, as I write!). 

As unpredicatable as it is, life goes on. Embrace it! Live it!! 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+5(L3)=DAY 71 

 Wonderful wisdom for the world 

We received an e-mail today from Rev George Irvine, the Founder President of MHA and an Aldersgate resident. We have his permission to share it with you verbatim today: 

The ’10 things’ is by Anna Grace Taylor, followed by some thoughts of my own. 

10 things to remember. 

  1. Love is the answer. Always. (I, George, would want to add tough love.) 
  2. Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s a strength. 
  3. Your body is sacred. Cherish it. 
  4. Gratitude shifts everything. Be thankful. 
  5. Forgiveness sets you free. It really does. 
  6. You cannot change others, only yourself. 
  7. Little acts of kindness are never little. Ever. 
  8. Fun is underrated. Enjoy yourself. 
  9. Age is just a number. It’s never too late. 
  10. Life is precious. Live it now. 

All of the above is true, but I have discovered as a stumbling follower of Jesus that the Cross and the Resurrection live together with us. 

In Isaiah 40. 31 we read: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” It is important to remember that we cannot experience all three at once. Sometimes we soar on wings like eagles. I experienced this at the birth of my children, or at some worship services, or walking towards the sunrise at the beachfront. At other times I have been given strength to keep going without getting tired, but sometimes I am just able to walk without falling over. Many of our residents during lockdown may find themselves in the last category, like I do at the moment, but don’t feel guilty. Make room for suffering and joy to shake hands within you. They belong together and what God has joined together let no person pull asunder. 


We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves 

The Humanitarian Heartbeat of the MHA family 

BREAKING NEWS: A couple of weeks ago we put out a request for residents to provide support for Ekuphumleni Home for the Aged in Zwide. They were, and are, in desperate need of support for their residents and staff. They shared a ‘wish list’. 

The response has been overwhelming; apart from a large pile of foodstuffs handed in at the Managers’ ofices, a whopping R21,530 in cash has been donated. MHA will add to that kitty. Bless you all! 

Head Office is engaging with a wholesaler to provide all of the required foodstuff, which will be delivered to Ekuphumleni, together with a supply of some of the needed medical/PPE items. 

Photographs and an article will appear on our website, in due course, but we wanted to share this wonderful news with you now. 

The future of the “Newsflash” (I am writing this piece under my own name) 

When I woke up this morning, after a restless night’s sleep, I told my wife Penny that today’s edition would be the last for a few days; I was going to take an extra long weekend break, until say Wednesday or Thursday next week. Apart from serving on the MHA Board, working closely with the CEO and his team, and chairing CovidCom, I have two other exacting post-retirement jobs, as well as a loving and tolerant wife, all demanding my quality time and attention. 

I shared this with our CEO, Hein, who in turn shared it with his Managers. It was been decided that, after this edition #48, a Newsflash will be published every Friday, until the need no longer exists. So, I’m taking a break! Unfortunately I cannot afford the time to snooze on a park bench! 

I come from a business environment where the general belief was that one can never over-communicate; keep your staff, clients and suppliers fully informed, and in that way one eliminates confusion, rumours, dissatisfaction, unhappiness and fear of the unknown. This is what CovidCom has tried to achieve over the past 10 weeks of Lockdown. From all of the written and verbal feedback gratefully received, it is evident that the objective has, for the most part, been successful; residents and staff have been told, on a daily basis, what was happening in keeping the COVID-19 monster from our doors; the material shared in an endeavour to uplift spirits apparently did the trick; lots of advice was given, and there was a smattering of entertainment and humour to help get you through the day. Some content caused huge offence to a handful of people, who expressed their view, in no uncertain terms. They were entitled to their opinions and interpretation, but it didn’t in any way influence the decision to cut back on the Newsflash. 

If and when there is significant news to share with residents, an urgent Newsflash will be issued, on an ad hoc basis. Our Managers will also share news with residents and staff, as necessary. 

Our country, our city, our community and CovidCom still have massive challenges ahead, in waging the war against the enemy we cannot see (other than under a microscope). I will continue to be a part of the team which is dedicated to keeping 570 residents and 112 staff safe and healthy. All I ask is for you to share the responsibility by looking after yourself and your neighbour, and for you to work with those dedicated to your welfare, not against. 

May God continue to bless South Africa and its people----and MHA. Malcolm 


Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray) 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+3(L3)=DAY 69 

Musings of a Recycled Teenager: 

CovidCom has received this lovely article from Sandi Osborne, retired (?!) teacher and a fairly recent arrival at Maranatha Village. We have her permission to share it with you today: 

When I made it known that I was moving into a retirement cottage at Maranatha, my announcement was met by a myriad of emotions ranging from hysterical laughter to genuine concerns that I had, finally, lost the plot. 

There is an enormous difference between being alone and being lonely. I love my alone time and freedom. But I’m never lonely. I have taken a year of my life to start again. Life indeed, begins at 60. 

I am loving every second of lockdown. I read myself stupid, eat whenever I feel like it, sleep at my leisure and generally lead a hedonistic life. Bliss!!! I have created a beautiful rockery, painted my outside table, I have made 35 anklets and bracelets, and 8 mosaic crosses of varying sizes. I’ve surfed the net and created worksheets and notes for my kids, and purchased a classical guitar. But the best has been my teaching. 

I returned to the classroom after 17 months of retirement. It was only supposed to be for 3 weeks. Yeah, right! I’m now back in the classroom and thriving. Teaching is my passion. During lockdown I have had wi-fi installed, upgraded my tablet and computer, and am now a whizz at technology. 

It is mind-blowing when you can sit at home, click a button, and your pupils can all see you and talk to you. I can see and hear them all, and lessons continue. The programme which I use allows me to load any document, notes, exercises or exam paper onto the screen and chat my way through the lesson using any and every resource that I have, including text books. I can highlight words, change fonts and colours, upload music, screen video footage, and annotate without pausing for breath. 

The reaction of my pupils has been so inspiring. I taught my entire Matric Poetry syllabus during lockdown. My Grade 11 pupils completed Macbeth with me, and my Grade 10s finished the prescribed novel. My pupils all wrote a test every Friday. Comments such as “Ma’am it’s so cool writing my test at home” or “I’m in my jammies, lying in bed, drinking a cup of coffee and writing my test.” Another responded, “Mrs Osborne I just love that we can work at our own pace. I finished all my week’s English over 3 days, and now I’m going to tackle my maths for 2 days.” 

This remote teaching thing works. The kids are happy. This is the way to go. 

Input and feedback from the MHA family: 

The old adage “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” crops up all the time in life, but it seems to have grown another head during these Coronavirus times. People all over the world are generally not coping well with the uncertainty, frustration, fear and personal misery being heaped on them as consequences of the pandemic. We are all having to find new ways of coping. Being critical of or angry with others is not the way; being tolerant and supporting each other is. We continue to receive many bouquets via e-mail, and we also receive both constructive and destructive criticism; that’s life, and we need to deal with it all in such a way that our ‘customers’ (you!) are satisfied, and that the business and our reputation remain intact. 

Our CEO and/or CovidCom members do their best to deal with the complaints and frustrations which are directed their way. There is no manual or website which has prepared or taught anyone how to deal with the array of challenges presented to a business by the Coronavirus. This dilemma applies to MHA too. If any member of the MHA family, whether a resident, employee or a concerned family member or friend, is concerned about anything which the organization is or isn’t doing in line with its Mission and its commitments, please bring it to the urgent attention of the CEO, and preferably in writing. All MHA’s resources are being stretched and tested right now, and MHA asks for your co-operation in getting all of us through this COVID-19 nightmare. 


Let us close today with some light relief. It is worth mentioning that both these cartoons were published in mid-March 2020, well before the 2019 version of Coronavirus became a global pandemic, and was called COVID-19. 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray---and enjoy some more freedom from Monday!!) 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+3(L3)=DAY 69 

Obfuscation is everywhere!! 

Today’s issue of The Herald (no, not the one shown left), which many of you will have read or skimmed though, provides us with enough confusion, obfuscation and rumour-mongering fodder to last us through to Christmas. Without being accused of nitpicking, or being in any way critical of our country’s Commander-in-Chief, let’s unpack a few bits and pieces (some comments are deadly serious, one requires your co-operation and commitment--see page 2 of this Newsflash--and a couple are aimed at brightening your day!): 

  • The Lockdown rules and regulations promulgated by Cogta Minister Dlamini-Zuma have been declared by a High Court as being “unconstitutional and invalid”. Almost 60 million South Africans have endured varying levels of hardship and sacrifice for 69 days, and we now get told this?! It is highly unlikely that those millions of people who have lost their jobs, lost businesses, lost an academic year, lost loved ones, lost their dignity, or have gone to bed hungry, will take any comfort out of this, neither should they hold their collective breaths. By the time that Government has studied the judgment, launched an appeal, and for it to be heard in court, everything will have changed dramatically anyway. It is highly likely (the personal view of your scribe, by the way: E&OE, Ts & Cs apply!) that the masses will increasingly ignore the phased Lockdown approach via levels, many of the rules and regulations imposed by Government will fall apart (whether or not the appeal is successful), social distancing will quickly become an obsolete phrase and behaviour, and the COVID-19 virus will spread like a mid-summer bushfire. But all is not doom and gloom; tobacco products will shortly be back on the shop shelves 
  • Sticking with that subject, Minister Dlamini-Zuma continues to defend her ban on tobacco products, contending that the ban would result in a ‘sizeable number’ of South Africans quitting the habit, and that ’the poor and youth are particularly likely to quit’. If that wasn’t enough entertainment for one day, she also said that the only way to deal decisively with the illicit cigarette trade was to ensure that the demand for cigarettes was reduced. Wrong! The way to deal with any illicit trade is to cut off the supplier and the customer; hunt down and lock up the culprits. Perhaps the Minister would like to add Poaching to her portfolio? Put this whole subject into some perspective: The tobacco industry in SA contributes more than R8 billion in excise duty and VAT to the government per annum, and private consumer spending on tobacco is approximately R12 billion per annum. Maybe the Cogta Minister could enlighten the population by telling us what percentage of that is attributable to the ‘poor and youth’?! The major spend and resultant tax comes from ‘the others’, the vast majority. Smokers who can afford to smoke will smoke, or give up the habit, of their own free will, not through the whim of a cabinet Minister who happens to have MBChB behind her name 
  • It may not have been important to whoever is responsible at The Herald for content and layout, but only on page 4 do we get told that “Up to 80% in (Eastern Cape) province likely to get Covid-19”. The report that 80% are expected to present mild symptoms and only 5% would need high care is hardly comforting. Your scribe only got an F+ for Maths in matric in the 1960s but, on the basis that there are 7 million people in the Eastern Cape, Premier Mabuyane and his Health Department officials are potentially facing 5.6 million infections. Even if 4.48 million Oos-Kaapenaars (80% of the 80%!) will only present mild symptoms, they will still be carriers of the virus. Or is the maths and logic wrong?! 

MHA’s stance on Visitors and Domestics 

CovidCom hopes that it has displayed at least two critical behaviours since COVID-19 became “headline news” in SA in early March: 

1. As a responsible and compliant organization, which cares deeply about its mission and its responsibilities, MHA will comply with and adhere to all of the rules and regulations set from time to time by Government, via the Disaster Management Act and subsequent Gazettes 

2. MHA will apply its own rules and regulations, in addition or as a variation, in order to safeguard residents and staff. 

Up to today, the steps taken to manage the coming pandemic have proved to be successful, and we thank God that we can say that. Staff and residents, and their families, have been hugely tolerant and accepting of the situation. We are, however, reaching a point where virtually everyone is becoming impatient or intolerant, and this can lead to dropping our guard, individaully or as an organization. We cannot afford to do that! 

Today’s news, highlighted on page 1, doesn’t help either. A couple of residents have expressed the opinion that, if Lockdown, is ‘unconstitutional and invalid’, then they are going to bring their private domestic employees back to work, or have demanded that the MHA domestics return to work. In this regard, CovidCom needs to share the following with all residents and the MHA family: 

  • We cannot and will not see all the good work done thus far come to nothing 
  • The full force of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t even got going yet. Using a weather analogy, we are experiencing a fresh wind at present; the gale and then the destructive tornado are still to come, over the next three months or more 
  • As has been reported in an earlier Newsflash, and at the AGMs in March, the CEO and his Management team are urgently reviewing the whole subject of Domestic employees; it is a complicated matter, which requires research, consultation and sensitivity. Please regard this as urgent work in progress 
  • No Domestic worker, whether employed privately or by MHA, is allowed to enter any MHA facility, other than the Frail Cares and Bedsitters. No exceptions will be made, and residents are urged to comply with this decision 
  • The decisions taken by CovidCom in mid-March to lock down our facilities has undoubtedly been the right one; we have thus far been infection-free 
  • Regarding visitors, para 40 of the Disaster Managenent Act, as amended on 28 May 2020, clearly states that: “Visits by members of the public to---older residents’ facilities---are prohibited”. MHA’s own rules support this; no visitors are currently allowed into any MHA facility. 

Please rest assured that CovidCom is continually reviewing the matter of Domestics and Visitors; along with a myriad other issues. We ask for your support and your compliance, as we go about this. 


This Lockdown business is heavy stuff; it’s taking its toll on everyone, in one or more ways. The chopping and changing, and some poor decision-making, on the part of Government isn’t helping either. Sometimes we just need to sit back and laugh about it---or cry. 

But remember this: we are not alone. Never more than right now is the expression “living in community” more relevant, more precious. Whether you are a grumpy resident or an exhausted member of staff, we are all in this mess together, and we will get out of it together. These two bits of wise advice may be of comfort to you today: 

Words from Philippians 2: Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+2(L3)=DAY 68 

 Coping with the challenges of COVID-19 

Screenshot 2020-06-03 at 18.51.47

The MHA family is blessed with having Charné Eaton as a resource to turn to, as an involved team member, especially in these tumultuous Coronavirus times. She is a Social Worker in private practice, and she has been involved for some while, providing support, encouragement and a professional listening ear to the MHA Management team who, as readers will appreciate, have stressful and demanding jobs, even more so as they deal with the challenges thrown at them daily in coping with the pandemic. They are each coping as best they can right now, with what is in their control, and they are tapping into their unique strengths which enable them to keep on.....keeping on. Here’s to all of the Managers in MHA, and to Charné----take a well-deserved bow!!! 

With Charné’s permission, we share with you today some of the (edited) words of encouragement which she has recently shared with the Managers, via e-mail. Her wisdom may also resonate with residents, the other staff, and with the wider MHA family who receive the daily Newsflash: 

  • These COVID-19 times call for everyone to come together in finding creative, healthy and safe solutions to help deal with whatever one is faced with; some days are easier than others and some conversations are easier than others; emotions may fluctuate a lot, depending on the different scenarios you are dealing with and, very importantly, how you are managing your thoughts and your responses 
  • Consider your thought processes when you feel loss and change. This pandemic is most certainly a time of crisis for everyone, however more so for some than for others; we are all in the same storm, however in different boats! 
  • For many individuals and families, their circumstances prior to the Covid-19 outbreak were already very unsettled and in crisis, leading to even further distress and worry 
  • We are called to be courageous and keep perspective as we face each day with the goal of doing what we can, within our control, with lots of support and love for, as well as from, others 
  • Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker, believes that if we want to find opportunity in a time of crisis, it is absolutely appropriate and necessary to focus on the bad things now and then; allowing ourselves time to think about the bad situations, giving ourselves time to ventilate how we feel, giving ourselves time to cry 
  • The best way to deal with this trauma is through human relationships, by asking for help and by offering help; to call friends who are living alone and to let them know you are thinking of them and to actually just 'sit on the phone' for a while 
  • We can all agree that we were never meant to be socially isolated. More importantly, it is so natural in our human interactions to have physical touch when greeting one another; hugs, hand shaking, a touch to express warmth and care. The current pandemic forces us to refrain from what is part of us. It takes time to work at this and accept it for now. Just because we might be socially distancing does not automatically follow that one will be feeling lonely. Isolation, however, can most definitely lead to a deep sense of loneliness, especially those who are most vulnerable. 

Charné then posed the following question to the Managers: What can we all do to encourage individuals to remain connected in order to prevent a sense of disconnect that could potentially cause a sense of deep loneliness and despair? She has used the word ‘CONNECT’ as an acronym, to share some thoughts and reminders on the importance of maintaining interpersonal connection in different ways, for the sake of emotional well-being. We can all learn from these wise words! 


CREATE opportunity to connect in different ways. Connect by taking existing relationships online and communicate via your computer or the telephone, WhatsApp video calls, exchanging voice notes etc. Many may have been doing so for a while now; share your creative ideas with others 
OPENLY approach people to ask for help. Be honest with yourself about your need for help. At the same time, offer help. Needing support is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign that we are part of the human family! 
NETWORKING with support and resources available. Try to maintain existing connections and find ways to build new ones in this time. Look out for any new ways to connect with others in your community who wish to help 
NOTICE potentially concerning physical symptoms: difficulty sleeping, feeling on high alert for possible threats, and having more tension and stress in your body. If you are experiencing physical symptoms that cause you distress, it is particularly important to reach out for support, and encourage others to be brave to reach out when they need it 
ENGAGE in healthy habits at home (quiet times, uplifting music, etc); thinking in the short-term (today, this week, this month) rather than the longer-term. Strategies for staying in the moment include mindfulness and breathing techniques, or planning something every day to look forward to (eg. a phone call, watching a good movie, meal preparation, etc) 
CHOOSE to focus on the positive – what do you have that’s important to you and that you want to keep doing? Choose to re-ignite an interest or a craft as a means to distract and provide a sense of purpose right now. Choose activities within the home that distract you or are self-soothing. Choose to empower yourself; discover your ability to tap into your strengths 
TALK about your worries. The stigma of loneliness may be reduced at the moment, given the extreme circumstances, and it may be easier for people to talk about how they’re feeling. People need reassurance. Talking helps. 

Charné ends off: Keep well and stay safe and remember these words: 
“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible” 
(Saint Francis of Assisi) 

As a valuable MHA resource, over and above the services offered by our Professional Nurse/Counsellor and our Volunteer Counsellor, Charné would be available to residents who may feel in need of speaking to her. Please liaise with your Manager in this regard. 


Some more wonderful feedback, gratefully received by CovidCom, has been the following: 
Thank you for all the work that has gone into looking after the residents of the Methodist Homes, but it is not only that. You have cared enough to plan a first class service, even if not all realize it. I have been tremendously impressed, particularly when I compare it with what has happened in so-called first world countries. Please also give our thanks to all of the staff of Methodist Homes. We hope this will be some encouragement to you. Yours in His name too. 


Cassia Gardens residents would like to express their appreciation to the CovidCom for allowing us to open the Library again. It has been a busy week with residents being able to borrow books, DVDs and Jigsaw Puzzles. 


Be at peace, not in pieces 


Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray---and feel for those with an empty ashtray!!) 


LOCKDOWN@LEVEL 3: 36(L5)+30(L4)+1(L3)=DAY 67 

 CovidCom is down on its knees 

The CEO Hein Barnard and I are writing this under our joint names, in the hope that it will resonate more loudly than something written under the broad “we” banner. 

This is really not the ideal way to start a new week and a new month, and to herald in Lockdown Level 3, but sadly it needs to be done. Here goes: generally speaking, to be “down on one's knees” means begging someone for something, hoping for a positive result, thanks to that humble and kind of extreme act. In terms of seeking residents’ co-operation in complying with our Government’s and CovidCom’s Lockdown rules and regulations, the majority of MHA residents have embraced them and complied, because they intellectually understand the magnitude of the pandemic coming our way. Our gratitude is enormous. Sadly, others have chosen to be disrespectful, negligent, selfish, or just bloody-minded. Fact. 

Via the daily Newsflash, the Board and Management of MHA, via CovidCom, have requested, begged, implored, cajoled and used every other synonym imaginable to get residents to do the sensible thing; reduce the risk of COVID-19 entering our facilities, by acting responsibly. Some learned residents have provided material for Newsflashes, trying their different approaches to achieve what CovidCom has been trying to achieve: co-operation, and compliance with the rules. Failed. 

It is evident that some MHA residents are wired in one or more of the following ways: they resent authority; they do as they wish; they have a death wish; they don’t understand what responsibility is about; they truly believe that God will protect them from the virus, just on the basis that they are believers; rules are there to be broken; #$&% the government; or they do not care about the value of living in community, or the spirit of protecting and watching over one another. Those ‘square pegs’ come and go as they please; they allow visitors (mainly family) into a MHA facility on the pretext of needing an urgent repair done to something or because they think that only they are the lonely or needy ones; they abuse the rules to suit their selfish needs; and they are blatantly putting other lives at risk. Tragic. 

Here are four brutal facts, primarily aimed at those ‘heroes’ who refuse to comply: 

1. Learn from the Italy experience. Its leaders and its people didn’t listen to others, who warned that measures to isolate areas and limit the movement of the population needed to be taken early, put in place with absolute clarity, then strictly enforced. Italian authorities fumbled the early steps to halt the contagion; when it mattered most they instead tried to preserve basic civil liberties as well as the economy. Some officials gave in to magical thinking, reluctant to make painful decisions sooner. All the while, the virus fed on that complacency. They failed, and they failed the people; over 33000 Italians have died. An official from their Health Ministry said “Every day you close a bit, you give up on a bit of normal life. Because the virus does not allow normal life.” 

2. The COVID-19 pandemic is here. Please take your head out of the sand for just long enough to look around you. It knocked on the door of Maranatha Frail Care on Friday. A member of the morning shift arrived for work, showing some flu-like symptoms (yes, we know that she should have stayed at home, but she heard duty call); her temperature was elevated, so she was sent away for testing, which cost MHA R850. The results came back this morning: negative. While we all breathe a sigh of relief, it is cold comfort today; COVID-19 has hit a psychiatric facility in Kirkwood, which accommodates over 600 patients. Some deaths have already been reported. Please pray for everyone there. 

3. The numbers speak for themselves: on 1 March there was just 1 case of infection in our country; on 1 April it was 1380 infections/5 deaths; on 1 May 5951/116; by the time you read this Newsflash today, 1 June, the figures will be around 33000 infections/700 deaths. There has been a 12% increase just over this past weekend. 

The infection rate is going to continue to escalate even more dramatically; actuarial models don’t all produce the same projections, but it is apparent that, by mid-winter, SA could be dealing with 8000 new infections per day, with 500 deaths per day, and that will just be known statistics. SA has a huge rural population, where reporting of cases is slow, or even absent. Members of the MHA family don’t need reminding which sector of the population remains the most vulnerable. Do the Maths. Scary. 

4. Hein and I ask all residents this: do you want to be a part of the solution, or a part of the problem? The Board, Management and CovidCom all have a duty to protect our residents and staff, whatever it takes. We are doing this, and successfully so far, for which we thank God, and we are so grateful to the majority who have protected themselves and one another, and worked with us. In particular we are grateful for the Bedsitter folk; they have been locked in since late March, not going out, or visitors allowed in. Frail Care residents have also had no visitors since mid-March. We will not allow the selfish minority to undo all of this good work, and potentially decimate the MHA community; residents, staff and others. Take heed. 

Let us close with an appropriate quote from scripture, and a final comment: 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind 
2 Timothy 1:7 

Yes, this is a fear-full time in history, and in our lives. We have many reasons to be afraid, but as many reasons to be positive and courageous and thankful. Let us all stand together; powerful in words, deeds and actions; loving in the ways we look out for and protect one another; using common sense and responsible behaviour. May God bless South Africa, and may He continue to bless and protect the MHA family. 

Hein Barnard                                                             Malcolm Stewart 
Chief Executive Officer                                              Director, and CovidCom Chairman 


More positive feedback received at CovidCom HQ: 

I write to let you know just how much I appreciate the Newsflash that appears in my box daily. It undoubtedly takes time and a lot of effort to put something together for us, to keep us focused and encouraged, and to motivate the unmotivated! 

The recent comment regarding the taxi driver with an over-loaded taxi seems to have done the trick for some of us. Bright and early this morning, at first light, I saw someone who I have never seen wearing a mask doing just that; all masked like the majority of us! So, be encouraged, the Newsflash is getting through to us. In these days of isolation it is sometimes difficult to be up-beat, but there usually is something in the Newsflash that makes me laugh, and I appreciate that, and look forward to it. 

Thank you for having our best interests at heart; all of MHA Management, I salute you! There seems to be no end to the amount of trouble and expense you’ll go to for us, the residents. Some of us have had to look out for ourselves for a very long time; now having MHA looking out for us is indeed a great blessing, and at the same time very humbling. In September 2019 I moved in, and have loved every moment of it. I am exceedingly grateful to be a resident of this haven. It feels like yesterday that I moved here, and yet eight months have already gone by. I sometimes marvel at just how fast time passes by. 

At the wedding at Cana the very best wine was kept for last; our Lord has indeed kept the best for me for last! 

Please convey my thanks and appreciation to all of your colleagues. 



 MHA’s newest Centenarian!! 

MHA celebrates with the family and friends of Edith Stock, who turns 100 tomorrow, 30 May 2020!!! 

Edith just missed the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1920, she survived the Great Depression, she survived WWII, she was married to Doug for 62 years and had four children, and Edie (also affectionately known as ‘Kiewietjie’, because of her thin legs!) is blessed with seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. 

Yet, just short of hitting her 100th run, Coronavirus came and rain stopped play! Her family have always gathered at van Stadens River Mouth to celebrate important occasions; after celebrating her 99th there last year, the family set about organizing a bumper party there for tomorrow. Sadly this cannot happen during Lockdown, and so arrangements had to be cancelled. 

Growing up in PE, Edie says she had a simple but happy childhood; she was never good at sport due to her small build, but she enjoyed running, and so she was the one who always got sent to the shops by her Mom and even other parents! 

Edie worked for most of her married life, and she moved to Maranatha Village in 2002, where she became a very active and industrious member of that community. She moved to Maranatha Frail Care in 2018. 

A dear Maranatha friend of Edie’s, Pam shapiro, has submitted this tribute: 

“Our dearly beloved Edie Stock has to be the Maranatha Frail Care Flavour of May, as she turns 100!! We are all very proud of her; always smart, she wears a pair of size 3 black patent leather shoes as she walks briskly, using either her walking stick or 3-wheeled Ferrari!! Praise our Lord” 

Edie has shared her recipe for a long life: 

  • keep life simple 
  • most important, be sensible 

Her advice is to move to Frail Care in good time; she has been very happy at Maranatha Village and Frail Care, and has no regrets about her decision to move from her cottage to Frail Care. 

Congratulations Edie, from the entire MHA family. We know that you are a compassionate person, always putting others before yourself, and we are sure that you are disappointed that the gathering of your clan cannot take place right now. We will put the 100 candles aside, and we will bake a cake when we get a chance to celebrate in style!! Keep well, keep safe. 


Thanks, and some useful advice from a resident: 

Thank you so much for all the information to which we're being allowed access. PE is VERY short of water, so here's a hint for all "inmates": Instead of hand washing for 20 seconds, wet them, turn off the tap, soap and thoroughly wash hands for the required 20 seconds, then rinse off. Do the same in the shower. Thank you to all staff and Managers.  


URGENT: Domestic Cleaners and Gardeners 

Countrywide, employees providing domestic services are permitted to resume work, in terms of Lockdown Level 3. This has been confirmed by the President and others during the past few days. 

However, because of the unique circumstances facing organizations such as MHA, CovidCom has decided that NO domestic employees, whether employed by MHA or employed privately by a resident, will be allowed back to work on 1 June 2020, and probably for the forseeable future. This ruling also applies to gardeners employed by residents (refer Newsflash #42). 

We wish to assure all residents that CovidCom is reviewing this issue on a daily basis. We are acutely aware that some residents need and want their domestic helper and/or their private gardener to return to work, and we are equally aware that many residents are opposed to such workers returning during the pandemic. We are also mindful that those employees have been without income since Lockdown. 

The MHA Board, Management and CovidCom have a duty to do everything possible to prevent COVID-19 from entering any one of our eleven facilities, and one way to achieve that is to limit and control entry to our facilities by outsiders. In recent days we have been challenged by a few folk, with questions like: 

  • If you are allowing the MHA-employed gardeners and gardening/lawnmowing service organizations to return on 1 June, why can’t our own private gardeners return? 
  • You have had MHA-employed cleaners at work in the Frail Cares and Bedsitters since Lockdown, so why can’t the MHA cottage cleaners or our own private cleaners return to work on 1 June? 

In both cases, and generally, our response is as follows: 

  • MHA has the equipment and the protocols in place to test every employee at the commencement of work, on at least a daily basis. MHA staff will carry out these tests on every MHA employee and on every employee of a contracted service provider, and the results will be recorded via a daily Employee Screening questionnaire 
  • Each gardener is being provided with a mask and a face screen 
  • The majority of our employees travel to/from work in private transport (privately owned, or hired by MHA), and thereby have reduced exposure to others using public transport. 

We have 570 residents, 112 staff and a large business entity to consider, in everything that we propose, decide, say or do. The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting the Board, Management, CovidCom and staff with a vast array of challenges which no textbook or seminar has ever prepared us for. We are learning as we travel down Pandemic Road. It is worth quoting what the President said recently: “In fact, the risk of a massive increase in infections is now greater than it has been since the start of the outbreak in our country”. 

Our country, our city and the MHA organization have huge challenges ahead of us. The pandemic is about to hit us with great ferocity, and we are making decisions on a daily basis to be ready. Please work with us, not against us, as we continue to make bold, sometimes unpopular, decisions. 


Did you get it?! 

In yesterday’s Newsflash we challenged you to decipher this: FUNEX? SVFX FUNEM? SFVM OKMNX 

It is attributed to The Two Ronnies (Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett), two wonderfully talented British comedians from the ‘70s and ‘80s. The video sketch was titled ‘Swedish made simple’ and featured a restaurant patron ordering from the maître d’hôtel. What unfolds on screen is spelt out by the ‘alphabet’ sub-titles and verbal translation, as follows: 

FUNEX?          Have you any eggs? 

SVFX               Yes, we have eggs. 

FUNEM?          Have you any ham? 

SVFM               Yes, we have ham. 

OKMNX            Ok. Ham and eggs. 

CovidCom apologizes to any readers who were annoyed by this! 





The powerful message which we share with you today is a slightly edited version of yesterday’s Midweek Devotions shared electronically with members of the Newton Park Methodist Church by Rev Rowan Rogers. We received permission from Rowan to use (and slightly edit, for space purposes!) his message, for which we are most grateful: 

Deuteronomy 31.6 says to us: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you”. These words are much loved, but we should remember that they were the preface to a war! 

We often think of courage as conquering; of triumph; of vanquishing something or someone. The word ‘courage’ actually means ‘an act of the heart’. So it is deeply courageous not to retaliate when someone has harmed you. To forgive must surely be one of the greatest acts of the heart. 

There is great tension across the world; we’re not coping. We are all fraying at the edges. Just in this city alone we are not coping well with Lockdown; behavior generally seems to be at Level ‘Do Whatever You Like’! Some of the greatest courage we can show in these days is to keep behaving in a way which protects ourselves and others as best we can. It takes courage to love each other well. 

Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, said: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”. We must recognize that the virus is not going away right now; it is a situation we cannot change. It therefore requires that we change ourselves; that we keep championing the practices which keep one another safe. 

Today, don’t think of courage in the language of winning; triumph; victory. Instead, think of courage as the willingness to let go; that your great act of the heart is to say: “I am at the end of my rope, or pretty darn close to it”! Dallas Willard said: “God’s address is at the end of your rope”. Real courage is formed in the lives of those who quietly suffer, often unknown; who have found a strength beyond their own; and who quietly endure deep personal pain, with great grace. 

This Coronavirus pandemic is producing thousands and thousands of courageous people. Lord, please be with those especially today who are nearing the end of their rope. Help them to know deeply in their hearts that that is where you live. Help them to hear your gentle whisper that you are with them, and that you will never leave them, or abandon them. 

Men and women of courage: we not only pray with you, we salute you! Remember always the promise: the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. 


May God richly bless you, Rowan, for the gifts of courage and strength which members of the MHA family will receive today, via your uplifting words. 


“I alone can’t change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” 

(Mother Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu, Catholic nun and missionary, honoured in the Catholic Church as Saint Teresa of Calcutta) 

The Herald: Thursday 28 May 2020: 

Approximately 75 copies of The Herald are delivered to subscribers across our Villages every morning, and are then shared among friends and neighbours. So the daily readership is probably 200 or more. With that in mind, there is no point in news just being regurgitated in a Newsflash; CovidCom might instead merely refer to an article, and provide an appropriate comment. 

Take today’s issue, as an example. The virus has now hit a second Frail Care facility; you are aware of Lorraine Frail Care Centre, but it is now also in Gelvan Park Frail Aged Home. There is no doubt that both of these organizations do not have the extent of the financial and other resources which MHA has, in order to fight this war. We should, however, always remember that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate or choose by way of colour, class, possessions, medical aid, extent of preparedness, or any similar yardstick. Also, COVID-19 doesn’t invade on its own; it is let in the door, carried by a person into a home, a school, a hospital, a shop, a retirement facility. Please pray for everyone at the Gelvan Park and Lorraine homes. 

By the time that you read this Newsflash, the population at large may have heard more on how Minister Dlamini-Zuma feels about the vexed question around how much extra exposure smokers have to COVID-19, and how they would swamp hospital ICU’s and wards. In the meantime SARS continues to lose billions of Rands in lost duties and taxes, while the crime syndicates who own the illicit cigarette trade continue to make billions of Rands. To complicate matters, the Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, has allegedly said today that cigarette sales will return in Level 2. Simple logic tells us that by that time the use of “zols” will have increased exponentially, and would probably contain ‘wacky backy’ instead of conventional tobacco. Infections generally will have also increased exponentially by then; smokers and non-smokers, drinkers and non-drinkers; young and old; rich and poor, fit and flabby. South Africans are generally an intelligent, responsible lot, and we are relying on sound leadership at the top of government to get us through the pandemic. 

All shall be revealed, in the fullness of time. 


More clarity on gardening services: 

It was confirmed in Tuesday’s Newsflash (#40) that MHA’s team of gardeners will return to work on 1 June, and that residents must please refrain from asking a favour of a MHA gardener to carry out any private activity. MHA’s contracted gardening service providers will also return on 1 June. 

Residents are again reminded that NO gardener (whether employed by MHA or contracted to MHA) must be requested to carry out any private work at any time, either before or during or after their normal working hours. This ruling is for your safety. CovidCom will be reviewing the situation regarding the employment and use of private gardeners by residents, and a further announcement will be made in due course. 







Make any sense to anyone? It has nothing to do with the cartoon. 

We will explain tomorrow!!! 




Outbreak: 29 test positive for Covid-19 at the Lorraine Frail Care Centre 

This very sad news has been reported on the internet today via the Daily Maverick, and on AlgoaFM. The incident has occurred at the Lorraine Frail Care, which is run by Life Esidimeni, part of the Life Healthcare group, and currently accommodates 118 residents. Despite being under strict lockdown since the beginning of March, 10 staff members and 19 patients have tested positive for Covid-19, and one has died. 

The report carries comments about the Centre’s response in arranging testing, in isolating infected residents, in dealing with infected staff, and in notifying family of the outbreak. MHA should not and will not comment on these issues; instead, as the MHA family we should hold in prayer that Centre, its residents, its staff, and all affected family. This is a terrible time. 

CovidCom will closely monitor this developing story, and we will learn from the Centre’s experiences and responses. We will also continue to sharpen our weapons daily. We will have more on that to share with readers over the next few days. In the meantime, please continue to be vigilant, compliant, supportive, prayer-full, and keep yourselves safe and well. 


Lockdown Level 3: Implementation of new regulations 

The required Government Gazette giving effect to the changes has still not been issued, and here’s the reason why: the National Coronavirus Command Council has postponed its media briefing scheduled for 12h30 today, at which it was going to shed light on the implementation of the new regulations. Without being disrespectful, let us speculate that there is a huge amount of disagreement within the ranks of the Command Council, mainly to do with ‘power games’ involving the usual suspects, each one trying to justify his/her existence, and stance on a matter (liquor, tobacco, school readiness, public transport, or where and when to get a cheap haircut). 

And here’s more speculation: Public Enemy #1 (in the eyes of smokers anyway!) is going to attempt to restore some shine to her crown by announcing that cigarettes will, after all, be back on the shop shelves from Monday 1 June. Watch this space!! 


The Herald: front-page news on Tuesday 2 June 2020 

After being deprived of their favourite alcoholic drink for 66 days during Lockdown, from yesterday South Africans are again allowed to buy stock from their local bottle stores. The retail outlets are only open Mondays to Wednesdays, from 09h00 to 13h00. 

So it was not surprising that yesterday witnessed long queues, a total lack of social distancing, frustrated shoppers surging into the stores despite the half-hearted efforts of security personnel to restrict numbers at any one time, and rampant theft and shop-lifting. In some areas there were reports of wide-scale looting of liquor shops, and hijacking of delivery trucks. The police and the army would have been overwhelmed, had any been in evidence as the mayhem unfolded. 

Reporters spoke to many of the frustrated shoppers, and got these stories: 

  • My constitutional rights were being imbinged, so I’m pleased that the ban has been lifted 
  • I just couldn’t beer it any longer 
  • I’m just pleased that these stores can ginerate revenue again 
  • I miss my wife so much since she’s been gone; she’s in the queue at Makro 
  • I hate queueing, but I must just grin and beer it 
  • I queued from 03h00; I was going to go home and climb back into bed, but I just Preston 
  • I feel for the oldies who were in the queue; they were bewildered, and one old man even lost aperitif 
  • Once we’ve got our stock, perhaps my husband will stop moaning and start wining 
  • One moment we were standing near to the door, when suddenly we were just schwepped aside 
  • One shady customer was caught stealing; store security Branded him a criminal, and Whisked him away 


Back to the serious stuff, the ‘useless information’ department! You will probably all know that liquor comes in bottles of various shapes and sizes, but do you know that they all have descriptive names?! Here they are: 



 Lockdown Level 3 (effective 1 June 2020): 

In yesterday’s Newsflash we said that we’d make further comment about Level 3 in today’s edition. In terms of substance, or cause for celebration, we’re about to disappoint you! 

Since Lockdown was imposed 61 days ago, CovidCom has been consistent in two specific areas: MHA would not disobey any rules and regulations set by Government in terms of the Disaster Management Act and the various Gazettes issued, and that we would constantly look for areas in which we could have some degree of flexibility in the interpretation of the laid-down rules; in this latter regard, the MHA rules around residents being able to exercise within the Village grounds is a prime example. No laws were broken and, as far as we know, no one was arrested! 

The reason why CovidCom doesn’t have much to comment on regarding Level 3 is because the Government Gazette which will spell out what is allowed/still not allowed in Level 3 has not yet been published (as at noon today!). As happened when Level 4 was announced by the President in late April, there might still be some subsequent changes to what he has already told the nation about Level 3; don’t hold your breath that any one of the Ministers seeking another 15 minutes of fame (Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs, or Police, or Transport) will add or subtract some critical bits and pieces to displease (or please?) the public at large. Watch this space! 

What we can share with the MHA family now is the following: 

  • Domestic services: CovidCom confirms that house-cleaning services by MHA domestic staff or via privately employed people is still not permitted at any MHA Village; the threat of COVID-19 infection from any incoming service provider is something that MHA cannot effectively manage in any way other than to deny them entry to our Villages and the residents’ cottages (as is currently the case with visitors). 
  • The future provision of a domestic cleaning service to MHA Village residents is a significant and complicated matter which is currently under serious review. Our 16 ‘domestic cleaning’ employees have been paid in full since March, but the current scenario cannot continue indefinitely. Other factors in the mix are obligations in terms of many Life Right contracts in force, and the demand for these services amongst residents. Research in this regard is underway, and residents will be consulted before any decision is taken. In the meantime, we hope that residents generally are coping well with their housekeeping chores 
  • Gardening services: MHA’s team of gardeners will return to work on 1 June. Especially after the beautiful rain which we are experiencing, the mowing of lawns will be a welcome sight! Residents must please refrain from asking a favour of a gardener to carry out any private activity; they have been instructed not to respond to any such request, or to enter any cottage, yard or garage under any circumstances 
  • Maintenance teams: they too will report for duty on 1 June. The painting team will pick up where they left off in March, but only emergency repairs will be undertaken until further notice. Please liaise with your Manager 
  • Hairdressing services: as previously advised, this is still not allowed in terms of Lockdown rules. An article in today’s The Herald reports that “up to 70% of the SA’s hair and beauty salons, spas and tattoo parlours face closure”. It reports further that there are about 90000 people active in this sector, which is worth R300 billion; worrying news. 

Tobacculosis (TB or not TB; that is the question)

For a great many South Africans, the continued ban on tobacco product sales is as baffling as it is frustrating. Approximately 7 million SA people smoke about 27 billion cigarettes per year, or an average of 3,771 cigarettes per smoker annually. 

More statistics: There are about 44000 smoking-related deaths in South Africa each year, which equates to 121 deaths each day. A total of 63000 people died of Tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa in 2018, according to new figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO). Two-thirds of those who died (42000) were HIV positive. Putting this into yet another perspective, in 2019 20000 South Africans were murdered, and 14000 died in motor-related accidents (with apparently over 60% of those being alcohol-related). Also, sugar products are being sold throughout Lockdown, yet 4.5 million South Africans suffer from diabetes. We’re a sorry lot, largely self-destructive, aren’t we? 

South Africa is one of only three countries in the world to have banned cigarettes during the pandemic (along with Botswana and India). Our Government has yet to provide evidence to suggest that smoking has any impact on Covid-19. The WHO has not released evidence or data on how smoking impacts the virus and has not taken a position on whether countries should ban tobacco sales. Even if studies attempted to make a connection between smoking and Covid-19, why have other countries not followed their advice and banned tobacco? It would appear that there are factions within Government, with different agendas and information, with Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s voice being the loudest. It’s become something of a merry-go-round in political circles, with not much ‘merry’ in it! It is not MHA’s place to criticize. 

Now add the following into the mix: there is a roaring and very profitable trade in illegal cigarette sales, and in selling cheap cigarettes. It can take less than four minutes to buy cigarettes on the black market, and desperate smokers are paying up to R20 per cigarette! The cheap cigarettes are apparently a health hazard, and of course not one cent of the illegal cigarette sales goes to SARS as tax or duty. 

Depending on which media source you read, we have 24000 police officers and traffic officials and 73000 soldiers ensuring that 57 million of us obey the law and are protected. So far, a few dog-walkers, beach-goers and surfers have been arrested, but no reports yet of cigarette sellers being nabbed. The truth behind the ban on tobacco products has yet to be revealed; conspiracy theories abound. In the meantime, Rome continues to burn----like the tip of a Texan, or near the butt of a Benson & Hedges, or even the zoggy end of a Russian Ziganov zol!! If you can’t light up, then try to lighten up  


This following clever use of the English alphabet was submitted today from a dear nonagenarian resident at a MHA village: 

Always BCool. Don’t have Ego with Friends and family. Give up Hurting Individuals. Just Keep Loving Mankind. Never Omit Prayers. Quietly Rememebr God. Speak Truth. Use Valid Words. Xpress Your Zeal 


Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. 
It means that even on hard days you know that there are better ones coming. 




 Day 60 has arrived! 

We South Africans have been in Lockdown for 60 days; that’s 1440 hours/86400 minutes!! It hasn’t been easy, and it’s not fun. Every resident deserves a “long service” medal for displaying great patience, acceptance, courage and stoicism. 

The magical number 60 is the common speed limit, in kilometers per hour, in most urban areas in the world; in years of marriage, it is the diamond wedding anniversary; in darts, 60 (treble-twenty) is the highest score that can be achieved with a single dart; and it is the smallest number divisible by the numbers 1 to 6. 

Age 60 is considered the threshold of when people enter the last major phase of their life. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy that the church should not financially support widows less than sixty years old. This was because those who were younger were considered able to remarry or strong enough to support themselves (1Timothy 5:3-11). 

There you have it; words of encouragement, a general knowledge quiz, and a snippet of bible study, all in one!! 


Down to Lockdown Level 3 in June: Yes or No for PE? 

The good news announced by President Ramaphosa last night was that the country will move to Level 3 on 1 June. He then cautioned that investigation was still under way regarding the extent to which certain “Hot Spot” areas might be treated differently to the rest of the country on 1 June. The twelve Hot Spot areas basically include every Metro/major city in the country, including Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth; they are defined as an area that has more than five infected people per 100,000 people or where new infections are increasing at a very fast pace. Don’t celebrate too loudly yet! 

CovidCom is presently studying the Level 3 rules and regulations in detail, and we will comment in tomorrow’s Newsflash. One thing is certain right now: the infection rate is soaring, and will increase as more and more people are allowed back to work. PLEASE do not become complacent; do not be fooled into believing that a reduction in the Lockdown Level means a reduction in the possibility of becoming infected. Continue to practice the safe lifestyle which has become the norm since late March; limit your exposure to members of the public, limit your movement beyond your home, don’t socialize, wash your hands frequently, and wear your mask. MHA’s job is to help keep you safe, and keep you positive. Hang in there!! 


National Escargot Day: 24 May 2020 

“Escargot” is French for an edible snail, but of course you all know this! But did you know that on 24 May each year the world celebrates this auspicious day?! No trace could be found about which countries actually celebrate the day, but in all likelihood France would top the list. In the late 1980s, escargots represented a $300-million-a-year business in the United States, so maybe they have tagged it on to their Memorial Day long weekend, happening now. 

Google will tell you lots about how to prepare/cook/eat snails aka escargot, but let’s not go there now. Why not just celebrate yesterday’s Escargot Day with the classic snail joke from the movie ‘Trading Places’: This snail buys a sports car and has it sprayed with a massive letter ‘S’, so everyone will see him and say ’Watch that ‘S’ car go’!!! 2 | P a g e 

Gratitude in action 

CovidCom received an e-mail from a resident on Friday (the sender has asked to remain anonymous). The suggestion made is considered that valuable that we share it with readers now: 

I have noticed the positive theme throughout the Newsflashes; this is highly commendable especially when we are feeling a bit fed-up ourselves! Gratitude has been mentioned a few times. Just a thought: would it help some folk if they are given an actual Gratitude exercise? 

I attended a Gratitude course a few years back and it helped me to have structure to gratitude. My suggestion is that we should encourage people to create a personal Gratitude journal/diary. While having their first cup of tea or coffee every morning, to become aware of just one thing that they are grateful for on that day, write it down, and throughout the day become aware of this one thing, and at night give thanks. Repeat this exercise daily, and at the end of the week reflect on all seven Gratitudes. 

I tried it again yesterday and, from my experience, it’s fun, surprising and uplifting! I saw a malachite sunbird sucking nectar from an aloe; a dove with a twig flying past to the big tree in front of my cottage to build a nest; a beautiful morning with crisp dew on the grass; people happily exercising outside; a gentle breeze on my cheeks. I could have almost filled a page with what normally would have gone noticed but only vaguely. 

Take care, and thanks for all the daily upliftment. 

We urge members of the MHA family to try out this suggested “Attitude of Gratitude” exercise. Gratitude is powerful; research has shown that it can have a positive effect on general well-being, resilience and social relationships, can reduce stress and depression, and can result in a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, and better sleep. Grateful people are generally more alert, generous, compassionate, and happier, and also have a greater capacity for joy and positive emotions. 

If this research is to be believed, the exercise is surely worth trying?! 


Feedback received; with gratitude! 

Last week we also received a letter from a Bedsitters resident, which we share now. What a coincidence it was to receive this positive message which ties in so beautifully with the Gratitude exercise mentioned above: 

Our tenth week! Trying to keep busy, read, listen to music, do a bit of walking, and refusing to listen to negative discussions about the Coronavirus situation, and have positive thoughts. We are all humans, and nobody can blame us for being a bit down at times--missing family and friends. 

But just remember we are serving a mighty God: Keep trusting and believing. He is in control, no matter what. 

We have so much to be thankful for. Start counting your blessings--so many, not enough words to praise and thank our heavenly Father for being there for us at all times. 

Then we thank the Lord for our Management who do so much in so many ways for our protection and safety. We are grateful. In the meantime we are all staying and praying and trying to put a smile on our faces, no matter what! 


Your mind believes what you tell it. So tell it positive things 

Crisis doesn’t change people. It reveals them!



 World Hunger Day: Thursday 28 May 2020 
(World Hunger Day is an initiative by The Hunger Project) 

On World Hunger Day 2020, nations across the world are looking at the rapidly changing landscape of global hunger and poverty; not just food and water, but also education, social justice, the rights of women and girls, the environment, and climate change. The Hunger Project uses an innovative, holistic approach that tackles all these issues, and empowers people living in hunger to lift their communities above the poverty line for good; this is the sustainable end of poverty. 

There is an increased risk of hunger and poverty in vulnerable communities, internationally and domestically, as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 820 million people in the world do not have enough food. 

The Ekuphumleni Old Age Home provides institutional care to 60 disadvantaged frail aged people in the Ward 25/Zwide area of PE, and has a staff complement of 27. Ekuphumleni is a subsidized entity which should receive a monthly subsidy from Eastern Cape Department of Social Development; however, timely receipt hasn’t happened in the past ten years, and this year is certainly proving to be worse. Some MHA residents will remember that we have supported Ekuphumleni over the years, for example passing replaced Frail Care beds and other equipment to them. MHA has developed an informal co-operation arrangement with them, over many years, and we recognize the wonderful work which they do, with limited resources. 

Ekuphumleni is in serious trouble right now, with their residents and staff in dire need of many essentials. They have turned to MHA for help, and so the Board, Management and CovidCom invite residents to contribute towards a “relief package” which we will put together. We remain mindful that some residents are also struggling right now, and also that some may be supporting other charities and organizations in need. That must be respected. Ekuphumleni’s “wish list” includes: 

10kg Sugar x 15                                                            10kg Mealie Meal x 10 
10kg Samp x 5                                                              2litre Oil x 8 
10kg Rice x 8                                                                1kg Oats x 3 boxes 
Big Tin Coffee x 15                                                        Pack of 100 tagless Tea Bag x 10 
Sunlight Preem Bar/Brick Soap x 4                               1kg powder soap x 10 
Chicken Spice box x 8                                                   Knorrox soup big sachets x 8 
500g Salt x 2                                                                 Aromat original x 8 boxes (3 sachet inside a box)
Tray/unit - peanut butter x 1                                          Tray/unit of green peas tin x 8 
Tray/unit of baked beans x 8 Tray/unit of Pilchard x 8   6 pack of long-life milk x 15 
The list is daunting; please don’t be put off by quantities required, as every contribution of whatever size will help those in dire need. They also have a list of non-food items, all essential to running an efficient Frail Care facility. This includes adult nappies, Glucosticks, Dettol, Panado, Limotil and cough mixture, and now they are challenged with having sufficient PPEs (gloves, sanitizers and masks). MHA is going to make a monetary contribution to Ekuphumleni, to enable them to purchase some of their non-food requirements. 

Please hand your contribution to your Manager by Monday 1 June. If you wish to make a cash donation, please place it in an envelope and hand it to your Manager. The Management team at Ekuphumleni is well-known to MHA; they have been carrying out selfless work there for a long time, and we know that all contributions will be used honestly and appropriately. Our intervention will make a huge difference right now. 

World Bee Day: 20 May 2020 

Had the compiler of the Newsflash beeen aware of the significance of 20 May, perhaps he wouldn’t have whined about having writer’s block on Tuesday!?! 

Bee that as it may, May is the advent of Autumn; beekeepers collect the last surplus honey as they prepare their hives for the winter months. Unbeeknown to most of us, May 20 is the birthdate of Anton Janša, a Slovenian who was born in 1734, and known to bee the pioneer of and teacher of modern beekeeping. You can give yourselves a B+ for that! 

Annually, May 20 is a day of raising awareness for the critical role bees play in the world, and in our lives. They pollinate over 170 000 plant species, and without them our diverse food supply would be less abundant, and our landscapes would eventually become wasteland, devoid of the colours and scents of those plants in flower. Bees have become threatened over the last 50 years. They are essential to our survival, and vice versa. 

To play your part, plant bee-friendly food (trees and flowers) at home, encourage communities to plant bee-friendly food along walkways and in parklands, and stop using harmful chemicals. 

The following was copied off the label of a honey bottle, locally produced by Menno’s Apiaries at Honeycombe Farm in Theesecombe: 

  • To make the 500g bottle of honey, Menno’s bees travelled 85000km (twice around the circumference of the earth!) 
  • In the process they visited over 2 million flowers 
  • Each bee makes a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its 7 week life 

If any reader wants to know how all this data was measured, please ask Menno!! We could wax lyrical about the subject of microscopic bee-tracking devices for ages, but we won’t; it will get the residents all abuzz.

PS: on a serious note, Menno welcomes visitors wanting to have an educational outing. Maybe diarize that as a fun outing for 2021?! 


Update on Capt. Tom Moore: 

The intrepid fundraiser/centenarian just doesn’t stop! 

Since he was last mentioned in a Newsflash he has been granted the Freedom of the City of London. He said: "I remain humbled by the love and gratitude that I have received from the British public, and this honour is something that I will truly value for the rest of my life." 

Capt. Tom has now raised ₤32,794,701 (at yesterday’s Rand/Pound exchange rate, that’s R709,074,891!!). Of the total raised, ₤20 million has been handed out to NHS charities across the United Kingdom, each getting ₤35000. The charity at the hospital where Capt. Tom was treated for a broken hip and skin cancer received £122,500. 


Italian divorces up by one-third! 

In today’s The Herald we’re informed that: 

  • Two months of pent-up frustration and irritation during Italy’s COVID-19 lockdown have led to a dramatic rise in divorce proceedings there 
  • Petty niggles have come to a head for many couples forced to live in proximity 
  • Couples able to get along tolerably well in normal times have been pushed to the brink by confinement. 

Is this what marriage has come down to?! What happened to the vow “to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part”? In the “olden days” the object (and fun) of being married to the love of your life was ‘to live in proximity’ without being forced to do so! 

Maybe this quip explains the root cause: “It’s been a great blessing to be at home with the wife these last few months. We’ve caught up on everything I’ve done wrong in the last 20 years”!! 



 With Covid-19, we’re all in the same storm – but not the same boat 

From the outset, CovidCom decided that it would not use the Newsflash as a means of spreading daily doom and gloom by quoting legitimate or so-called experts and showing graphs and slides about the advancing COVID-19 enemy. Instead, we decided that anyone wanting to know about the detail, locally or globally, could use all of the available media platforms and resources to do so themselves to the extent they choose. 

However, the landscape has changed in the past couple of days, because projections on the severity of the virus in South Africa have been revealed to the public for the first time; up until now Government has been secretive about the rate of infection (“It’s classified information”, they have arrogantly stated), and about the readiness of hospitals nationwide to cope with the expected flood of Covid-infected patients requiring hospital care, including ICU. A consortium of some of the country’s foremost experts has conducted an intense modelling exercise, for projecting infection rates, hospital readiness and bed requirements, mortality rates, and when the virus will peak in SA. All of this has been shared with our Minister of Health and others. 

It is also apparent that Provinces are fighting the war on differing scales, based on the actual or projected infection rate per area, and it is highly probable that Government may have to decide not to reduce Lockdown to Level 3 in some Metro/Province areas in June (hence the title of this article). 

CovidCom will share important information with readers, once we have verified the sources. What we know right now is that: 

  • The key objective of national Lockdown was to slow the spread of the virus, to provide time for Government to address hospital bed capacities, and increase ventilator capacities. It is still unclear if Government (national, provincial and local) has satisfactorily achieved that; once infection rates climb we will have that answer 
  • Based on the modelling referred to, the national peak infection rate is expected around mid-July to mid-August 
  • As a country we will not be out of the woods for many months to come; continued social distancing, not being allowed to gather in groups (church, functions, sport, funerals, weddings etc) or travel in planes or on ships, limited return to work by many business/industry sectors, will be with us until late into 2020, at best 
  • The national COVID-19 infection rate will inform and direct Government over the next six months, and this will apply to MHA’s decision-making too. Trying to return to any version of “normal” could start a second wave of infection across the world, and this is a key factor being addressed by the WHO and all countries which have already been down this perilous road. South Africa is no different; we’ve just been a late starter 
  • Even once the majority of the world’s population has been vaccinated (that in itself will take months to do), we won’t return to the” normal” we knew; a “new normal” will emerge, hopefully for the better 
  • Even now, MHA (via its Board, Management and CovidCom) is looking at how we could and should adapt what we do. The immediate focus is on protecting the MHA family from the pandemic, and on how we can limit all the current negatives which affect everyday life of our residents, without further exposure. This is work in progress, which CovidCom will share, via the Newsflash, whenever we can. For starters, see page 2 today. 

Lockdown; it’s enough to make you pull your hair out! 
(but wait----there is also some good news!) 

Okay, let’s get today’s lesson out of the way. If you do actually pull your hair out, you could be suffering from Trichotillomania, a mental disorder characterized by a long-term urge that results in the pulling out of one's hair. That’s Trichology 101 done and dusted! 

MHA’s Board and Management are acutely aware of the many frustrations and the deprivations which Lockdown has brought upon residents, their families and staff alike. The decisions taken over the past two months have all been carefully considered by CovidCom, and those which have been implemented have been in line with Government’s regulations and laws, and also to respond to the particular needs and dynamics applicable to our Villages, Frail Cares and Bedsitters. Where we have risked doing so, some elements of Lockdown have been adapted to best suit our residents (eg. walking about the village streets, getting the grass cut etc). Some we cannot change under the curent Lockdown level---for example, allowing visitors, bringing back hairdressing services, housekeeping assistance and gardeners---but others, which the laws and/or common sense allow, we change as we go down this COVID-19 road together. 

Some of the CovidCom members met yesterday, and we can share with you some of what was discussed: 

  • It is increasingly apparent that our locked-down lives are going to be inconvenienced for a long time to come; we dealt with that on page 1 
  • Residents are urged to comply with all laws, rules and regulations; everyone wants to see the country move to Level 3 and lower, and compliance is absolutely key to this happening 
  • As an organization, as a city, and as a country we just cannot let our guard down; otherwise the most vulnerable people (yes, starting with the elderly) will be at increased risk. It is in our (sanitized!) hands 
  • Residents in our Villages will, from today, be allowed to visit other residents in their village, but this must be on the following basis only: 

              - It is restricted to the outside patio/porch/garden only ie. no entry into the actual cottage is allowed 
              - Social distancing is absolutely critical; no hugging etc, as much as you want to do that
              - Masks should be worn during visits (you decide what is best to do if drinking/eating!!) 
              - Compliance is essential; CovidCom really doesn’t want to reverse this decision, or for Managers to have to police this 

  • Regarding the above, Bedsitter residents will carry on as per usual 
  • CovidCom is investigating the establishing of a screened facility within Frail Care where a resident can be safely visited by a family member. There would be no physical contact, and therefore no risk of infection. Creating this “box of emotions” (as a Portuguese nursing home has described it!) is a logistical challenge, and requires a dedicated visitor access point. Use by Bedsitter residents and their visitors is also under consideration. This is all work in progress 
  • Please remember that CP Bradfield Frail Care has a dedicated mobile phone with which family can have contact with residents (and vice versa) by using the WhatsApp ‘voice call’ or ‘video call’ facility. Please make contact with the Nursing Services Manager during normal office hours, to make arrangements to use this facility. 

CovidCom hopes to bring you more positive news, as and when COVID-19 allows us to do so! 


A new way of living---and a new language! 

Today’s edition of The Herald carried a short story about how Lockdown is producing a baking boom, and how stores are running low on stocks of flour, baking powder, yeast etc. 

The article also quoted a psychologist who said this about the new focus on baking: “Some people procrastibake to avoid dealing with the stress of the current reality or to avoid doing other undesirable activities such as work or household chores”. 

Procrastibake?? Really??!! Maybe the psychologist was just getting a rise out of someone, or wanted to make some extra dough, or has a particular knead? Really, it just doesn’t cut it! That’s just the icing on the cake!! 




 With Covid-19, we’re all in the same storm – but not the same boat 

Screenshot 2020-05-23 at 12.38.54

From the outset, CovidCom decided that it would not use the Newsflash as a means of spreading daily doom and gloom by quoting legitimate or so-called experts and showing graphs and slides about the advancing COVID-19 enemy. Instead, we decided that anyone wanting to know about the detail, locally or globally, could use all of the available media platforms and resources to do so themselves to the extent they choose. 

However, the landscape has changed in the past couple of days, because projections on the severity of the virus in South Africa have been revealed to the public for the first time; up until now Government has been secretive about the rate of infection (“It’s classified information”, they have arrogantly stated), and about the readiness of hospitals nationwide to cope with the expected flood of Covid-infected patients requiring hospital care, including ICU. A consortium of some of the country’s foremost experts has conducted an intense modelling exercise, for projecting infection rates, hospital readiness and bed requirements, mortality rates, and when the virus will peak in SA. All of this has been shared with our Minister of Health and others. 

It is also apparent that Provinces are fighting the war on differing scales, based on the actual or projected infection rate per area, and it is highly probable that Government may have to decide not to reduce Lockdown to Level 3 in some Metro/Province areas in June (hence the title of this article). 

CovidCom will share important information with readers, once we have verified the sources. What we know right now is that: 

  • The key objective of national Lockdown was to slow the spread of the virus, to provide time for Government to address hospital bed capacities, and increase ventilator capacities. It is still unclear if Government (national, provincial and local) has satisfactorily achieved that; once infection rates climb we will have that answer 
  • Based on the modelling referred to, the national peak infection rate is expected around mid-July to mid-August 
  • As a country we will not be out of the woods for many months to come; continued social distancing, not being allowed to gather in groups (church, functions, sport, funerals, weddings etc) or travel in planes or on ships, limited return to work by many business/industry sectors, will be with us until late into 2020, at best 
  • The national COVID-19 infection rate will inform and direct Government over the next six months, and this will apply to MHA’s decision-making too. Trying to return to any version of “normal” could start a second wave of infection across the world, and this is a key factor being addressed by the WHO and all countries which have already been down this perilous road. South Africa is no different; we’ve just been a late starter 
  • Even once the majority of the world’s population has been vaccinated (that in itself will take months to do), we won’t return to the” normal” we knew; a “new normal” will emerge, hopefully for the better 
  • Even now, MHA (via its Board, Management and CovidCom) is looking at how we could and should adapt what we do. The immediate focus is on protecting the MHA family from the pandemic, and on how we can limit all the current negatives which affect everyday life of our residents, without further exposure. This is work in progress, which CovidCom will share, via the Newsflash, whenever we can. For starters, see page 2 today. 

Lockdown; it’s enough to make you pull your hair out! 
(but wait----there is also some good news!) 

Screenshot 2020-05-23 at 12.39.03

Okay, let’s get today’s lesson out of the way. If you do actually pull your hair out, you could be suffering from Trichotillomania, a mental disorder characterized by a long-term urge that results in the pulling out of one's hair. That’s Trichology 101 done and dusted! 

MHA’s Board and Management are acutely aware of the many frustrations and the deprivations which Lockdown has brought upon residents, their families and staff alike. The decisions taken over the past two months have all been carefully considered by CovidCom, and those which have been implemented have been in line with Government’s regulations and laws, and also to respond to the particular needs and dynamics applicable to our Villages, Frail Cares and Bedsitters. Where we have risked doing so, some elements of Lockdown have been adapted to best suit our residents (eg. walking about the village streets, getting the grass cut etc). Some we cannot change under the curent Lockdown level---for example, allowing visitors, bringing back hairdressing services, housekeeping assistance and gardeners---but others, which the laws and/or common sense allow, we change as we go down this COVID-19 road together. 

Some of the CovidCom members met yesterday, and we can share with you some of what was discussed: 

  • It is increasingly apparent that our locked-down lives are going to be inconvenienced for a long time to come; we dealt with that on page 1 
  • Residents are urged to comply with all laws, rules and regulations; everyone wants to see the country move to Level 3 and lower, and compliance is absolutely key to this happening 
  • As an organization, as a city, and as a country we just cannot let our guard down; otherwise the most vulnerable people (yes, starting with the elderly) will be at increased risk. It is in our (sanitized!) hands 
  • Residents in our Villages will, from today, be allowed to visit other residents in their village, but this must be on the following basis only: 

              - It is restricted to the outside patio/porch/garden only ie. no entry into the actual cottage is allowed 
              - Social distancing is absolutely critical; no hugging etc, as much as you want to do that
              - Masks should be worn during visits (you decide what is best to do if drinking/eating!!) 
              - Compliance is essential; CovidCom really doesn’t want to reverse this decision, or for Managers to have to police this 

  • Regarding the above, Bedsitter residents will carry on as per usual 
  • CovidCom is investigating the establishing of a screened facility within Frail Care where a resident can be safely visited by a family member. There would be no physical contact, and therefore no risk of infection. Creating this “box of emotions” (as a Portuguese nursing home has described it!) is a logistical challenge, and requires a dedicated visitor access point. Use by Bedsitter residents and their visitors is also under consideration. This is all work in progress 
  • Please remember that CP Bradfield Frail Care has a dedicated mobile phone with which family can have contact with residents (and vice versa) by using the WhatsApp ‘voice call’ or ‘video call’ facility. Please make contact with the Nursing Services Manager during normal office hours, to make arrangements to use this facility. 

CovidCom hopes to bring you more positive news, as and when COVID-19 allows us to do so! 


A new way of living---and a new language! 

Today’s edition of The Herald carried a short story about how Lockdown is producing a baking boom, and how stores are running low on stocks of flour, baking powder, yeast etc. 

The article also quoted a psychologist who said this about the new focus on baking: “Some people procrastibake to avoid dealing with the stress of the current reality or to avoid doing other undesirable activities such as work or household chores”. 

Procrastibake?? Really??!! Maybe the psychologist was just getting a rise out of someone, or wanted to make some extra dough, or has a particular knead? Really, it just doesn’t cut it! That’s just the icing on the cake!! 


Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray---Oh no!! How long is social distancing here to stay??) 



 “Hello Houston; we have an unprecedented biopsychosocial crisis here” 

Apollo 13 was the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program, and the third meant to land on the Moon. The craft was launched in April 1970, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank in the service module failed two days into the mission. We South Africans were still deprived of TV in those days, so we had to rely on the radio and newspapers to keep us abreast of the dramatic rescue operation which unfolded to get the three astronauts back to Earth. Eventually we all got to enjoy the dramatized film version in 1995, starring Tom Hanks and others. It was nail-biting stuff (the film and the actual event!), with plenty of “Hello Houston; we have a problem” radio reports from the crippled spacecraft to “Mission Control” in Houston, Texas. That’s the history lesson for today! 

A recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine referred to COVID-19 as an “unprecedented biopsychosocial crisis”; we’ve heard it being called many things, but this is must be the most complex way possible to describe it! Apparently “biopsychosocial” relates to, or is concerned with, the biological, psychological, and social aspects, in contrast to the strictly biomedical (biology and medicine) aspects, of disease. That’s your Medicine/Psychology/Sociology 3-in-1 lesson for today! (and who remembers 3-in-One Oil??) 

We all have our own words to describe the pandemic and its multitude of Lockdown inconveniences, and some of them we should perhaps keep to ourselves! But we probably all have some words which describe how we feel, deep inside, and what we are experiencing about this “once in a century” global event, and how it has impacted on our lives; individually, as family, as a community, and as a nation. CovidCom invites you to contribute your thoughts and comments about this, and we will publish them anonymously in a future Newsflash. Here’s your opportunity to participate in the historical narrative, to leave your mark for posterity, and to achieve your fifteen minutes of literary fame! 

PLEASE keep your contribution to 50 words, and submit it by e-mail to, or via your Manager. Here’s an example of the sort/length of material we hope to receive, but humorous messages, with or without venting your frustrations or deprivations, will be equally welcome:

COVID-19 is teaching me to be grateful for waking up each morning, for the food and shelter I have, for the love of family and friends, and knowing that we “haves” should all help the “have nots” where we can 


Live a balanced life 

Most readers should be familiar with this iconic photograph. We apologize to any readers suffering from acrophobia!! 

It depicts eleven men eating lunch, seated on a girder with their feet dangling 260 metres above the New York City streets. The photograph was taken in September, 1932, on the 69th floor of the RCA Building during the last months of its construction. The photograph was prearranged; although it shows real ironworkers, it is believed that the moment was staged by Rockefeller Center to promote its new skyscraper. Other photographs taken on the same day show some of the same workers throwing a football and pretending to sleep on the girder. This photograph is often used to illustrate a “work/life” balance. 

While on the subject of a “work/life” balance, we have mentioned before that our CEO Hein Barnard has a book on his office desk, “30 Thoughts for Victorious Living” by Joel Osteen. Hein and his entire team are working flat-out at present (nothing new really, but with COVID-19, even more so!), and he felt that the words on today’s page of the book are so appropriate that he shared them with his entire Management team. This is what they read as the got to their desks early this morning: 

“They have made me a keeper of vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept” 

(Song of Solomon 1.6) 

“Are there areas of your life that are not ‘kept’ because you are taking care of everyone else? If you’re always on the go, constantly working and never take time for yourself, you will end up stressed out and overwhelmed, and you won’t be able to enjoy life the way that God intended. Living a balance life brings peace, joy and health. 

Decide today to begin investing in yourself. Take time to relax and rejuvenate yourself. When you are refreshed emotionally, physically and spiritually, you are able to give to others more effectively. 

As you bring balance to your life, you will begin to enjoy every day to the fullest---just the way God intended!” 

It takes a courageous leader to acknowledge his or her shortcomings or faults to co-workers or troops, and to propose a solution. The entire MHA team, from the Carer to the CEO, are working exceptionally hard at present, doing what they must in order to prepare for the COVID-19 war; and this is over and above their everyday tasks, which includes wrapping up the financial year-end before the external auditors arrive, and being even more vigilant and disciplined in the workplace. We could all benefit from Joel’s wisdom for today. 


I sometimes marvel at just how fast time passes by, and then I’m reminded: “Life is like a toilet roll--the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes” 




 Writer’s block! 

Greetings to one and all. Have you noticed since Lockdown began that our local English newspaper, The Herald, has almost no original journalistic content, and certainly almost nothing being reported on the plight of our City, which is leaderless, rudderless, and rapidly running out of water? Almost half of the pages are filled with advertisements, and half of those are self-promoting the newspaper itself. The majority of photographs are hardly newsworthy, and have nothing to do with our City or Province; instead it’s a case of “copy and paste” of random images (and just based on the past two days) of someone in prayer in the Milan cathedral, or a gravedigger in Nicaragua, or of a queue waiting to vote in Benin (that’s between Ghana and Nigeria, by the way!), or migrant workers on a truck in Hyderabad (you know that’s a city in India!), fleeing Covid. 

Coverage of and comment on COVID-19 is presently all-consuming across all media platforms; most of it should carry a health warning, and be avoided. It is also sad, but predictable, that the pandemic is being used as a tool for power-hungry politicians to remain in office, and for corrupt officials to deprive the poor, all at the expense of serving the people, which is what ‘civil servants’ used to do. 

However, look beyond all of this and you will see and hear about wonderful acts of generosity, philanthropy and kindness, across the City and across the world. This Newsflash is going to share some of these “good news” stories with you, in the coming days. We need positives, not negatives, right now. 

Every journalist or author has a day when he or she has “writer’s block”, and today it is so for the compiler of this Newsflash!! Enjoy the bits and pieces in today’s edition; CovidCom hopes that it’s preferable to a blank page, a random photo of a Nepalese encyclopaedia salesman, or more Covid statistics and stories. 


Compliance: another approach 

An anonymous Village resident has shared this, related to the article in Newsflash #31 on 13 May about seeking residents’ compliance with Lockdown laws and rules. He says: 

“After reading the newsletter, I thought of a riddle. What sparked it off was the item about compliance, from the ‘Village sage’. One of the methods of getting a point home that Jesus used was to get people to answer their own questions. Having worked out the answer, they could hardly argue with it. I thought this riddle might come in handy in case there is any further reaction from disgruntled/ungrateful residents:

Question: What is the difference between the driver of an overloaded mini-bus taxi and a person who refuses to comply with Lockdown regulations? 
Answer: The taxi driver only puts his eighteen passengers at risk!” 

Groceries and Iron: 
Two totally unconnected items in today’s underwhelming issue of The Herald are worth mentioning, if only for the purposes of entertainment, and as a distraction from the endless and inevitable “C” conversations! Also, if one has a fertile imagination, the two can in fact be connected, as explained below! 

A page 4 headline said this: “Newton Park grocery store temporarily shut”. The “grocery store” is none other than Newton Park SUPERSPAR, probably the largest Spar outlet in PE. In terms of scale, size and selection it can hardly be described as a “grocery store”! 

Let’s not make this Nitpicking Tuesday; do any readers of the Newsflash remember the genuine article, real grocery stores like Richardson’s in Westbourne Road, and Harris’ in Rose Street, before the advent of trolleys and scanners, and when the grocer was a real person, who wore a white apron, and knew the name of every customer?! In those days (1960s) R100 a month was a decent living wage; if you went to the shops with R50, you could buy your monthly groceries and you would still have money left over. For R1 you had a choice of buying five beers or five packets of cigarettes; they were 20 cents each. Also in that era the drive-in was a popular entertainment spot; you could take a girl on a date for R2 without being classed as a cheap-skate and you would still have money for chips and cool drink. Oh well!! 

A letter on page 8 of the newspaper quoted Margaret Thatcher, who famously said: “A government is like a baby’s nappy. It should be changed often, and for the same reasons”. Nothing has changed! 

So how does a piece on grocery stores tie in with Baroness Thatcher?! Simple: she spent her childhood in Grantham in England, where her father owned a tobacconists and a grocery shop! He was also a Methodist local preacher, and brought up his daughter as a strict Wesleyan Methodist. 

From these quite humble beginnings she went to university and worked briefly as a research chemist before becoming a barrister. 

As a British stateswoman she served as prime minister of the United Kingdom, and was the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and the first woman to hold that office. A Soviet journalist dubbed her "The Iron Lady", a nickname that became associated with her uncompromising politics and leadership style. As the photo shows, some photojournalist had a bit of fun, at her expense. 

Here endeth today’s history lesson! 

Feedback from grateful residents: 

CovidCom is humbled by e-mails of appreciation and encouragement which we receive on a regular basis. We share this latest one with you, received from a family member of a Bedsitter resident: 

“Good afternoon Hein and COVID-COM @ MHA, 

Your dedication and commitment is a beacon of light and inspiration to us all. We are far away, and you have our unwavering support in your efforts and determination. Your communication is an example to the world, and watching events unfold in Europe on BBC as regards Care Homes just emphasises how well you have and are doing. 

We salute you and the team” 


My Mum used to threaten to knock us into next year. I’m going to ring her to find out if the offer is still open!! 




The cost of MHA’s war against the Coronavirus: 

We will leave it to the economists and other clever people to tell us about the massive damage which this virus is causing to the world economy, to rich and poor nations, and to those who have little or nothing. Let us just hope and pray that the “new world” which emerges, once the virus has been defeated and we are all vaccinated, will be a better, cleaner, healthier, more equal, more tolerant, more peaceful world. God, in His wisdom, is giving us all a second chance to get it right, and fix this crazy world. We cannot leave it to politicians to do that. 

At a basic level, MHA is blessed to have had responsible and conservative stewardship going right back to its formation in 1982; carried forward over the decades by competent Directors and Management, support staff and professional advisors. One of the tangible benefits, details of which we have shared with residents at various formal meetings, is that MHA is a financially strong organization. This has enabled us to absorb the costs incurred in making sure that we are properly prepared and equipped for the COVID-19 war. 

In the past two months MHA has spent R500 000 on this preparation. We have continued to retain and pay our domestic, gardening and maintenance teams; stocked up on and dispensed personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitizing materials; provided private taxi transport to get our Frail Care staff safely to/from their homes; fortnightly sanitizing of our Frail Care and Bedsitter facilities; and providing our Bedsitter residents with a free breakfast and supper meal (up until 30 April), to compensate in a small way for their ongoing “locked in” situation, which they continue to accept with great stoicism (such a lovely English word!). 

We are about to enhance the fortnightly sanitization of our Frail Cares and Bedsitters by introducing Sterifog Aerosol Dispensers which will act as a further layer of protection for our residents and staff. The dispensers will be installed in all passages, entrance halls, sunrooms and lounges (25 units in CP Bradfield Frail Care and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, 17 units in Maranatha Frail Care and 10 units in Epworth Close). Fog will be released from the dispensers in intervals of thirty minutes. The fortnightly sanitizing, currently in use, attaches to all surfaces and kills off all germs; the specifications stipulate that this product is effective for one month, but we made a decision to do this on a fortnightly basis. The new Sterifog will also attach to surfaces including on staffs’ and residents’ attire. MHA will pay R 46,661 per month for these sanitizing interventions. 

If this is not enough, MHA currently has a R5million ‘hole’ in its income, because eight cottages have new ‘life right’ contracts signed by incoming residents but, although vacated, cannot be refurbished because contractors aren’t allowed on site. In addition, three cottages with a combined ‘life right’ value of R2.8million have been vacated but cannot be viewed by prospective residents under Level 4. MHA has the ability to manage this income hole, until occupation of the vacant cottages takes place. 

These are just some examples of the unbudgetted consequence of war. Imagine if MHA simply didn’t have the financial resources to heavily arm itself to fight off COVID-19? It would be like rushing headlong towards the enemy, armed only with a chilling war cry and a sharp stick! Imagine too if MHA went into this war without the dedicated, brave, disciplined, well-trained soldiers we have amongst us; our nursing and caring staff, and all those who support these wonderful frontliners? We are richly blessed. 

(the picture on page 1 is by Banksy, an anonymous British street artist who focuses on political and social commentary. The little boy chooses, as a tribute, to play with a nurse as a superhero, over Batman and Spiderman) 


Disposing of an unwanted firearm: 

Paragraph 7.9 of the MHA House Rules states: “Ownership of a firearm must be declared to the Manager when moving in, and any such firearm must be kept in a locked gun safe” 

Head Office has recently received an enquiry from a few residents who possess a firearm, but who no longer wish to keep it: how do we dispose of it? 

Ownership and licensing of a personal firearm is strictly controlled and regulated, as those of you who own one will know; you can’t just sell it, or throw it away, or give it to a relative or friend. 

Our CEO has established that the most efficient and legal way in which to relinquish ownership of a firearm registered in your name is to contact Captain Neil Kritzinger of the SA Police Services in PE. His mobile number is 083 6536875. Tell him that you are part of MHA, and that Hein Barnard suggested that you call. Hand over unused ammunition at the same time! If you are keeping a weapon, keep it safe. 


International Nurses Day 2020 

We saw precious little media coverage of this significant day, and this lowly Newsflash hangs its head in shame. This is a time in history when the nursing profession should have been placed on a pedestal; but they are too busy saving lives across the world right now. Even so, we “dropped the ball”. 

The global nursing community celebrated International Nurses Day on 12 May 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of perhaps the world's most famous nurse, Florence Nightingale. 

At MHA our wonderful nursing and caring staff were treated to a delivered KFC lunch on Tuesday. Then they had to get back to doing what they do best: nursing and caring, and spreading love. 

We salute you! (Banksy’s sketch is so appropriate to this piece too) 


We close today’s Newsflash with some food for thought: 

  • We forget that waking up each day is the first thing we should be grateful for 
  • Today you could be standing next to someone who is trying their best not to fall apart. So whatever you do today, do it with kindness in your heart 




PLEASE toe the line! 

Despite repeated pleas and reminders, our Village Managers continue to witness blatant disregard for Lockdown-related laws imposed by Government, or rules being applied by MHA. They are tired of nagging or reprimanding some residents, and they should not have to resort to doing that! CovidCom received a valuable piece of sage advice from a Village resident, who says that people respond better to positive reinforcement than to have their shortcomings continually brought to their attention. For some people, the latter simply rubs them up the wrong way and actually makes them more determined to be rebellious. We take heed of this advice! 

So, we will not go the Min. Bheki Cele route of threats, and maximum force with minimum tolerance, but instead we share with you what the “village sage” wrote: 

“To all those residents who are feeling frustrated as a result of lockdown but are still choosing to remain at home for all but legitimate reasons, we salute you; to all who find wearing facemasks thoroughly irritating, but do so anyway, we applaud your selfless choice; for all who are desperately missing the company of their friends and family, but are steadfastly refusing to compromise on lockdown requirements, know that your example is speaking volumes about the sort of person you are; to all who continually express gratitude for the efforts of MHA staff to make village life pleasant and safe, know that your sentiments are a positive motivator to us to continue giving our best efforts. 

I would encourage those in the majority who are being compliant to continue in that vein, and just perhaps some of the others might be encouraged into greater compliance” 

CovidCom hopes that residents in the MHA villages will take this eloquent message to heart, and comply with the laws of the land and the rules of the organization. They are all imposed for your protection, and for the protection of your neighbours, not for our perverse enjoyment. It is, after all, just up to you. 


“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” 
(Viktor E Frankl) 

“We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out” 
(Theodore Roosevelt)

Pulling your hair out?! 

In response to many enquiries received from desperate female residents, CovidCom regrets to inform everyone that Lockdown laws imposed by Government, in terms of Level 4 rules, clearly say that businesses or individuals providing hairdressing/manicure/pedicure/skincare and beauty services are still not allowed to operate. That’s the law, and MHA is obliged to comply. Sorry!! We know that this is a frustrating time for women in particular. 

Many countries across the world have also forbidden hairdressers and the like from operating. Those which have allowed hairdressers to re-open have introduced some interesting rules: 

  • No waiting area, no magazines, no dry cuts, and face masks for both customer and hairdresser 
  • Gloves must be worn until a customer's hair is washed (to remove any bacteria) 
  • A salon can only operate at 30% of its capacity 
  • No talking face to face; any minimal communication about cut or colour must be done via the mirror 
  • Customers and hairdressers must keep a 1.5m distance except when the haircut is taking place 
  • No blow-drying, if possible 
  • Scissors and other tools must be thoroughly disinfected between uses, as well as hairdressing chairs 
  • Hairdressing cloaks must be washed after each use; a disposable cloak should be worn over the top. 

If any or all of these rules will apply when SA’s salons re-open, you can be assured of the following: 

  1. The appointment backlog will be huge (phone your hairdresser now to get in the virtual queue) 
  2. There will be a significant increase in cost, because of the safety/hygiene rules 
  3. Find someone other than your hairstylist to skinner and gossip with 
  4. Women will receive little sympathy from husbands, from bald husbands even more so! 


Wearing your mask in your garden: 

Mention of this was made in Newsflash #25, but there still seems to be some confusion. This is what was recorded: “CovidCom has decided that what is best for all MHA Village residents is for it to be compulsory to wear your mask whenever you move beyond your cottage or your private garden area”. 

For the sake of absolute clarity, we confirm that you DO NOT have to wear your mask if you: 

  • Sit on a chair on your patio or the adjacent lawn (you can even spread out a towel and sunbathe!) 
  • Work in your garden 
  • Walk about in your private garden area, to admire your work and its beauty 

For safety sake, we recommend that you keep your mask with you, just in case a neighbour gets too close when giving you advice or a compliment! 


Attitudes are contagious 
Make yours worth catching 



Tomorrow will herald the start of the eighth week of our Lockdown, one of the world’s longest; and the end is nowhere in sight. South Africa has many unique challenges and dynamics regarding its population, reportedly the most unequal on Earth, so it would be short-sighted and unfair for us to criticize or judge President Ramaphosa and his team too harshly, neither would it be right for an organization like MHA to do so. As residents, staff, and as the MHA family, our increasing frustrations make him an easy target. 

The President spoke to the nation again last night, and what he shared was underwhelming, according to today’s media responses. Some of what he said last night was: 

  • There will be a further easing of the lockdown, and an increase in economic activity, and the country plans to move to Level 3 at the end of May 
  • More relaxations will come with a greater risk, as more people interact with one another, and greater vigilance will be required 
  • The new level will allow for a wider opening of the economy, but the government first has to meet with stakeholders in high risk areas to discuss the way forward 
  • During lockdown, South Africans have demonstrated great courage, resilience and responsibility. Despite its duration and its severity, the lockdown is absolutely necessary; without it the number of infections would have soared uncontrollably, health facilities would have been overwhelmed, and many thousands more South Africans would have died 
  • From the very beginning, government’s response has been guided by advice from world-leading experts from our country, globally, and from guidance from the World Health Organisation 
  • We should never forget that the purpose of the lockdown was to delay the spread of the virus and prevent a huge surge of infections. So far, we have been successful in the manner we as South Africans have responded and dealt with this virus 
  • By delaying the spread of the disease, we have been able to strengthen the capacity of our health system and to put in place wide-ranging public health programmes to better manage the inevitable increase in infections; we have been able to source and produce substantial quantities of personal protective equipment for health workers; we have managed to significantly expand our screening and testing programme. 
  • If we lift the lockdown too abruptly and too quickly, we risk a rapid and unmanageable surge in infections. We will therefore continue to proceed cautiously 
  • Some of the actions we have taken have been unclear, some have been contradictory and some have been poorly explained. Implementation has sometimes been slow and enforcement has sometimes been inconsistent and too harsh. 
  • The President's last point is telling; almost an admission that he has been embarrassed by statements made by those who serve under him, each one trying to satisfy a particular faction, or just trying to enjoy his or her fifteen minutes of fame. The walking/no walking fiasco, and unbanning/banning the sale of cigarettes are just two examples of the ‘power games’ being played. 
  • Yes, maybe the expectation last night was that some easing would be announced (more sectors and more people going back to work, hairdressing/beauty salons would re-open, more freedom of movement, cigarettes and liquor sales would resume etc.), but the cautious approach is the sensible way to go. 

The President ended his address last night with these words: “As I end, let me offer the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, delivered at a difficult time in the life of his own country: ‘The state of this nation is good; The heart of this nation is sound; The spirit of this nation is strong; The faith of this nation is eternal."’ 


CovidCom Meeting: Thursday 14 May 2020: 

Four members of CovidCom met for a marathon three hour meeting today, at which we interrogated our existing procedures and protocols relating to MHA’s readiness to tackle whatever COVID-19 challenges come our way, and we spent a lot of the time reviewing our Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual. We focused on Facilities, Residents, Staff and Family, which are the four essential cornerstones of what MHA is in business to do. As a result of this meeting, we believe that our state of readiness has been well reviewed, and the updated document will create a template for whatever battle ensues. 

CovidCom will share more detail with you in the days to come. 


R.I.P. Richard Wayne Penniman 

Richard Wayne Penniman passed away on 9 May 2020, at the age of 87. He was better known as Little Richard, an American singer, songwriter, and musician. Unless you lived in a home in which “modern” music was forbidden, or you were living on Mars in the mid-1950s and into the 60s, you would probably have heard of him! As an influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades, he was nicknamed "The Architect of Rock and Roll". His frenetic piano playing, showmanship and raspy shouted vocals laid the foundation for rock & roll music for generations to come. 

His song "Tutti Frutti" was first recorded in 1955, becoming his first major hit record. The first line of the song has the unforgettable opening cry of "A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom!" In 2007, an eclectic panel of renowned recording artists ranked "Tutti Frutti" in the "Top 100 Records That Changed The World". 

He surely deserved the accolades and admiration which came his way, but it is doubtful that he died with the hope in his heart that "A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom!" would be engraved on a tombstone as his epitaph! Those of us who were brought up with his music will miss him. 




 Playing ‘Russian Roulette’ 

This was Google’s response to the question: “Why wear a face mask”?: 

5 Reasons to Apply a Face Mask Right Now: 

  • Relaxation 
  • Deep cleansing 
  • Unclogs pores 
  • Glowing skin 
  • Helps your overall beauty regimen 

As we were looking for information about protection against COVID-19, this was singularly unhelpful! 

CovidCom needs to get to the serious part of this article. To put it bluntly, there are far too many Village residents who are knowingly or unwittingly playing their own version of Russian Roulette; they are NOT wearing their face mask when walking around their Village or elsewhere; they are allowing visitors in; they are staying away from their cottage for hours on end (presumably socializing). They are breaking the laws imposed by our government, and they are abusing the rules set by MHA in an endeavor to protect residents and staff. 

These subjects, in particular the wearing of masks, were discussed at length at the CovidCom/Managers meeting on Monday, and the following is an e-mail subsequently received from a concerned resident at one of the Villages (she had extensive nursing experience in her working life): 

“I am concerned that a large number of residents do not fully understand why they have to wear face masks, which is to protect them from inhaling the virus. This is evident as when they wear a mask it does not cover their nose. It is often worn hanging around their neck and pulled up quickly when they see someone, or they wear it just covering their mouth but not their nose. When challenged they have an excuse; they can’t breathe or their specs mist up if they cover their nose. Another problem is that when wearing a mask a lot of residents continuously use their hands to adjust the mask or handle it in one way or another. Some I have spoken to don’t understand why they should not handle a mask once it is worn, or leave it lying around but need to wash it. Unfortunately the pictures on TV and in the Newspaper give a wrong impression on wearing masks. What also concerns me: are they wearing their masks any differently when out shopping?” 

Sadly, CovidCom and the Complex Managers have been on the receiving end of some harsh or unkind words from residents who have been approached for not wearing a mask (or for the other issues of non-compliance referred to above); ‘Don’t insult my intelligence’ or ‘I am old enough to look after myself’ or ’It’s my life so I’ll do what I choose’ or ‘Laws are there to be broken’. That is a selfish attitude; we can only hope and pray that sanity will prevail, and that these games of ‘Russian Roulette’ won’t end tragically. 

CovidCom doesn’t see the need to spell out what has already been announced or recorded publicly over the past two months, other than to remind all residents and staff: 

  • Wearing a mask in public is the law of the land 
  • Wearing a mask can limit the spread of certain respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. However, the use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection; physical distancing and hand hygiene should also be adopted 
  • Cloth masks are not expensive, they are reusable and help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by acting like a shield to contain the respiratory droplets through which the virus spreads. The purpose of the mask is to reduce droplets that come out of the mouth or nose during speaking, coughing and sneezing 
  • Avoid touching the mask or your face while you’re out. When you get back home, wash the mask with soap and water immediately (without using chemicals) and wash your hands again 
  • After washing, the masks should then be ironed or left out in the sun to dry 
  • You should not share your mask with anybody else, and it is preferable if every person has two masks which can be interchanged during washes 
  • Remember not to handle the inside layer of the mask when taking it off or putting it on 
  • The public should not wear medical masks – these are reserved as personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers who are on the front line of our battle against COVID-19. 

We beg you to co-operate and comply. 



Neologism is defined as a new word or a new use for an old word, or the act of making up new words. The Washington Post asked readers to supply alternative meanings for common words; the winners were: 

  • Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs 
  • Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained. 
  • Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk. 
  • Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent. 
  • Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightie. 
  • Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp. 
  • Gargoyle (n), olive-flavoured mouthwash. 
  • Flatulence (n.), emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller. 
  • Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline. 
  • Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam. 
  • Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms. 
  • Frisbeetarianism (n.), the belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there. 
  • Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.” 



  The Waiting Game 

Today’s edition of The Herald has an article on page 6 headed “Old age home staff refuse to work”. Some of the salient points reported in the article were: 

  • At least two people at the old aged home in Algoa Park, which is home to more than 100 elderly residents and with about 74 staff members, have tested positive for COVID-19. Two staff members have also tested positive, after mass testing of staff and residents was held 
  • While staff remain terrified of catching the virus and infecting their loved ones at home, a group of about 20 staff members report to work daily for fear of losing their jobs 
  • Staff there are demanding that the home be thoroughly cleaned before continuing with business as usual, claiming that until now their cries have fallen on deaf ears 
  • Staff have been reporting to work and not performing their duties since May 6, saying they simply sit outside the facility and do nothing 
  • They said they had been each given one mask, with a station to sanitise their hands at the entrance. However, the home manager said they had put hand sanitisers in all the home’s departments in addition to the entry and exit points 
  • The manager said the Department of Health had taken over the situation since the first case was reported. He said: “They sent in people to test everyone and have said a cleaning company would arrive to disinfect the place but nothing has happened” 
  • A family member of one of the residents said she had received no communication from the home about the matter. She said she was only told that residents were being tested when she went to drop off parcels, and had only heard the rest of the information through the grapevine. 

The Directors, CovidCom, MHA staff and residents generally would have read this article with concern and sympathy. Let’s not beat about the bush here; the article could have been about MHA. Let us also not engage in points-scoring, but there are significant and critical differences between what has been reported about the Algoa Park home and the reality around MHA’s facilities. It may be helpful and reassuring for the MHA family to be reminded of the following: 

  • Our Villages have been in Lockdown, with strict rules around visitors, and our two Frail Cares have been locked down since before imposition of the official Lockdown 47 days ago 
  • Via frequent communication, our residents have been encouraged to stay at home, and to practice all of the safety and sanitizing precautions. Complex Managers have played a huge role 
  • The safety and health of our staff has been paramount. They are transported to/from their shift via a private taxi, they are tested on arrival for their shift, their temperature is taken three times a day, and they have been thoroughly trained on hygiene and safety 
  • Communication with staff is ongoing via the Nursing Service Manager and other senior staff 
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been made available since the outset, and is being upgraded and enhanced on an ongoing basis 
  • We have been as proactive as our imaginations have allowed us; our Frail Care facilities are being disinfected fortnightly, and sanitizing equipment is everywhere 
  • Lastly, and of great importance, CovidCom is communicating with the wider MHA family every day, and so family members are being kept abreast of all development. 

Some of what has been written here has been recorded before, but CovidCom felt that it was important to remind everyone of what is being done continuously in order to keep the Covid monster away from our front door. This is not the time to be smug, to boast about what MHA has done, or to rest on our laurels. We know that COVID-19 is coming; we just don’t know when or where it will hit. Bill Gates of Microsoft fame said this recently, and for us it is a timely reminder about COVID-19: “It is reminding us to keep our egos in check. It is reminding us that no matter how great we think we are, or how great others think we are, a virus can bring our world to a standstill” 

CovidCom/Managers’ Meeting: Monday 11 May 2020 (further input): 

Following yesterday’s announcement about re-opening of our Libraries, CovidCom can share the following with you, which came out of the meeting: 

  1. Managers have been mandated to make decisions affecting the residents in their village. In this regard, communication is key. Also, our Managers are taking strain right now; their work is stressful at any time, but more so now, as residents start reacting negatively to Lockdown. Spare a thought for your Manager! 
  2. Each Village is making its own plans about re-opening of the library; please wait to hear from your Manager, and please adhere to the health/hygiene rules around this 
  3. Domestic cleaners (privately employed or not) are not allowed back to work under Level 4, and so will not be allowed back to any MHA village. This is the law, not a MHA rule being imposed 
  4. It is hard and painful to be separated from loved ones at this time, but please understand that visitors (family, social or business) into the Villages ARE NOT ALLOWED. This is being abused by several residents. Lockdown is there for a reason; it’s to minimise the risk of inter-personal transfer of the virus. By mingling with visitors (or your visiting people outside of the village) you are putting the lives of your fellow residents at risk too. Also, many residents go out from their village for hours on end. PLEASE be responsible; don’t be reckless and selfish 
  5. Part of our armour against infection is proper nutrition. We ask that you keep an eye out for your neighbours; many folk in the MHA family are facing a huge financial challenge right now, and may be too proud to let anyone know. This is where and how “living in community” can play a significant role 
  6. Sr Gillian le Roux is prepared to cut the toenails of any resident who is physically unable to do that. There are health risks attached to ignoring one’s nails. Please speak to your Manager if you need assistance 
  7. You will observe random lawn-mowing activity in some of the villages. Our Maintenance Team members are now also mowers of lawns!! Fortunately winter is on its way, so nature is helping to keep lawns neat. 



  CovidCom/Managers’ Meeting: Monday 11 May 2020: 

We try to meet fortnightly, to formally discuss matters of mutual concern, new issues and challenges, and to consider strategic needs. We focus on residents and staff and our facilities, but we also meet in order to encourage and support one another; these are particularly stressful times. We meet in a spacious boardroom-style room, and we adhere to all the necessary hygiene and other rules and requirements. 

In tomorrow’s Newsflash we will share with you some of what we dealt with today. Unlike the President’s “Command Council”, we have no secrets we cannot or will not share with “the people”, but we’ll spare you the boring detail! 

However, one bit of BREAKING NEWS we do want to share with you now is that THE VILLAGE LIBRARIES ARE GOING TO RE-OPEN THIS WEEK!!! 

The CEO and his Complex Managers are busy agreeing the administrative details around this, but our aim is to have the libraries back in operation within two days. Please don’t queue outside, and please don’t pester your Manager  


Coping with COVID-19: It’s getting a bit weirder! 

We want to share this with you, based on a recent research paper (authenticated as not being fake news!): 

The Unbearable News: 

A group of people studied by the researcher have described their ‘isolation’ experience with words like: 

  • We may now be entering the dreaded phase of hollow-eyed stares, odd fixations and brooding resentment. Time grows sludgy. The days blur into the nights, the weekdays into the weekends 
  • We don't understand what's going on with us 
  • Mood and morale reach their lowest point somewhere between the one-half and two-thirds mark 
  • There was a first stage of heightened anxiety, a second stage of settling down to routine marked by depression, and a third stage of anticipation marked by emotional outbursts, aggressiveness, and rowdy behaviour 
  • There is interpersonal tension during the third, due to both loneliness and clique-ness, and this third stage depends on the relative passage of time, and how much more there is to go. 

Please everyone, do not panic: the researcher was analysing behaviour of three astronauts on their return to Earth after a 211-day mission aboard a space station! It has nothing to do with COVID-19! 

The Slightly Better News: 

  • Let’s now get back to the COVID-19 subject; the second half of the researcher’s paper 
  • South Africans have broadly been through two periods of isolation: an initial point where there was panic buying and confusion, and then a ‘honeymoon period’ when it felt novel and different to stay at home. The researcher says: "For a little while people were saying how they were loving working in pyjamas, and not having to battle morning traffic. People are now saying they're feeling really lonely; they're saying they can't remember the last time they interacted with someone in a way they found personally meaningful”. As a nation, we have actually now moved beyond that phase 
  • Infectious disease experts and the politicians responsible for the restrictions are of the opinion that social distancing rules are likely to remain in force for some time to come; allowing people to mix freely too soon could trigger a second wave of infections. This is understood globally now 
  • The researcher said: "When you drill down into isolated and confined environments like space stations and submarines, interpersonal conflict is the number one reason for dissatisfaction and unhappiness. The frequency with which it occurs increases the longer you've been isolated." 

Some Almost Good News, and Advice from the Researcher: 

  • Isolation affects people in profound ways, and how we respond to the COVID-19 restrictions is partly out of our control. Even fearless astronauts get knocked sideways simply by not having people around 
  • Take it easy on yourself. The next few months may be hard. Many of the things that would energise people and assist them to function effectively have been taken away, so this is a genuinely hard thing to go through 
  • Anybody who is experiencing anything difficult right now is demonstrating a normal reaction to an abnormal environment 
  • From experience, the researcher has found that those who have been through a period of isolation value the experience for what it has taught; they have a better idea of their personal values, and they're more committed to acting on them, and said: "When people have space to sit back and think it allows them to figure out what's important to them. That's why, post-COVID, we will see differences in the way people engage with each other, in the way people work, in the priorities given to the environment, and the way people think about travel." 
  • She (okay, so why did we take so long to reveal that the researcher is a woman?!) found that, following experiences in isolated environments, men are more likely to use social support as a coping strategy compared to before they went in, while women have an increased trust in their own abilities. That is, men become less insular and women become more confident 
  • She ends off by sharing: "Take it easy on yourself. The next few months may be hard. These tips are important, as is appreciating that some dip in mood is inevitable”. 

As CovidCom has stated before, there is no point in sugar-coating the truth, or the reality. Some of the emotions and reactions showed by the space station astronauts also apply to us, as we face COVID-19. They had years of preparation and training; we didn’t. The messages which come through loud and clear from the researcher are that we must force ourselves to interact meaningfully with others; accept that we are all in an abnormal environment which is not of our own making; and that it’s okay to occasionally ‘get knocked sideways’. We must support one another, avoid the negatives, and embrace the positives. As the MHA family we can do this, we must do this, we will do this. 



 Happy Mother’s Day: Sunday 10th May  

Wikipedia tells us: “Mother's Day is an occasion which is celebrated in various parts of the world to express respect, honor, and love towards mothers. The day is an event to honor the contribution of mothers, acknowledge the efforts of maternal bonds and the role of mothers in our society”. Even if you were never a mother yourself, you had a birth mother; every person on Earth came from a mother. Perhaps you played important mothering roles in your life? God bless all mother figures! 

Mother’s Day, which has been celebrated for a century, has now largely become a commercialized gimmick. Maybe this is the year to take it back to what it used to be; a proper celebration, as described above? 

The scriptures are always a good place to find significance and meaning: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:25-28) 

Let us spend Mother’s Day on Sunday 10th May 2020 contemplating the good which our mothers did for us: shelter and protection; the countless miracles they performed; the sacrifices made in a tough bygone era; raising us without the benefit of a pile of manuals on parenting to refer to; no pediatrician to run to at the first sign of our runny nose; still putting nourishing food on the table when there was too much month left after the end of the money! They even got us through mumps, measles, and chicken pox! 

With all the madness in the world right now, perhaps this is the right time to unburden, to forgive, to fix, or to let go what might have been sitting on your heart for years, regarding your relationship with your mother? It is never too late for love and gratitude, even though she may no longer be present. 

Maybe this Sunday is also the appropriate day to extend Mother’s Day to contemplate and embrace the other “mother” who is so important in our lives: Mother Nature. As humankind, we have ignored her, abused her, damaged her, deserted her, poisoned her, exploited her, starved her, killed off parts of her, we have even ridiculed her. No mother deserves that treatment. With this too, it is never too late. 


Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life. 

Lay down what’s bothering you, and breathe in the fresh air. (author unknown) 

Put your shoulder to the wheel! 

To 'put your shoulder to the wheel' is to respond to a problem by applying yourself and making your best effort. It is similar in meaning to 'get stuck in'. 

Where does this expression come from, and what wheel was being referred to? All the early uses of the proverb refer to cartwheels, and it dates from the 17th century. At that time the wheels on wooden carts and carriages were large, and big enough to get your shoulder behind. In those days roads were rutted and muddy, and carts often got stuck, and overturned. There was no AA or breakdown service to call; the only recourse was to turn the cart upright and heave against the wheels to make some forward progress. That’s today’s history lesson done and dusted  

COVID-19 is demanding us, every adult on Earth, to put his or her ‘shoulder to the wheel’, in one way or another. There are so many ways in which this is being achieved, across the globe; showing courageous leadership at governmental or organizational level; carrying some of the scientific and specialist burdens, and the nursing and caring load in looking after those who contract the virus; carrying out testing and screening in order to eventually stop the spread; those who provide every kind of non-medical service in order to keep the world working; and those who are finding a vaccine. The list is almost endless. 

Hugely important are those global citizens who offer encouragement, who spread positivity and shun bad or fake news, those who look out for their friends and neighbours. Look around you; they are everywhere! 

In this time of Coronavirus let us please all find a space where you can “put your shoulder to the wheel”. In this way we will win the war, and change the world for the better. 


“I miss my church; Sundays are not the same” 

This lament is being heard across MHA; residents and staff alike. Our local churches have been wonderfully innovative in the way that they have brought Sunday and other services, and even Bible study sessions, into our homes or onto our mobile devices; they have taken “home delivery” to an entirely new level! Those of us who are churchgoers have so much to be grateful for. 

However, the common emotion being expressed within the MHA family is that we miss the close presence of and with God in the sanctuary, the praise which hymns bring, the sound of the organ (or piano or band), being able to attend to our tithing, the fellowship and a cup of tea or coffee afterwards, seeing and chatting to old friends we’ve worshipped together with for ages; we even miss the familiarity of our favourite pew! 

Our churches and we will withstand this Covid-19 onslaught. We have three fully loaded bazookas in our armoury, to take us to victory: faith, an unfailing belief that God is on our side at all times, and prayer. 




The Importance of Repairs and Maintenance: 

Things break down, and need fixing; that’s life. We also know that Murphy’s Law often gets in the way: “If something can go wrong, it will----and usually at the worst time.” In life, and especially in this time of Coronavirus, it isn’t always a material asset which breaks or develops a mind of its own, and needs repair or maintenance; it is often us who need some maintenance, repair, recalibrating, or just some TLC. With all of this in mind, we share the following with you: 

Personal Repairs and Maintenance: 

COVID-19 and Lockdown have brought uncertainty, fear, loneliness and other emotions our way, and it is often difficult to cope with this intruder. This can easily impact on one or more of our emotional, physical, social and spiritual health. Please remember this: as a member of the MHA family, you are not alone. We are here to help and guide and encourage and protect you, both residents and staff. 

If you are ‘down in the dumps’ or need some support, reassurance or direction, please contact your Manager. MHA has two wonderful resources to help you; our Professional Nurse/Counsellor Sr Gillian le Roux will contact you, and visit if required, and we have a Lifeline and FAMSA-qualified Volunteer Counsellor who will confidentially chat with you via phone. Please don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. 

Repairs to a MHA asset (geyser, electrical or plumbing problem, broken window pane etc): 

1. Our Complex Managers are on hand to assess and assist with minor issues 

2. Our Maintenance Team is available to attend to many minor problems requiring repair/replacement, which the Manager cannot resolve 

3. Otherwise MHA’s external professional service providers are authorized to attend to more complicated matters 

4. Any problems per 1-3 above must be reported directly to your Manager, per the existing laid-down system of your reporting such matters to them 

Repairs/maintenance to a privately-owned asset in your cottage/apartment: 

1. This could involve, but not limited to, a problem with a kitchen appliance, TV and related equipment, computer and related equipment, and the like 

2. Where an external professional service provider is needed to resolve the issue, your Manager must be advised before you make any call-out arrangements (which would always be for your account) 

3. The Managers have been instructed to monitor and control external professional service providers visiting Villages, and only the Managers are permitted to authorize a visit 

4. Any external professional service provider will be subject to strict visitation rules, which the Manager will explain and enforce 

5. Routine maintenance/servicing/upgrade issues cannot be entertained during Lockdown. 

n Doedelsak storie!! 

The origin of this is unknown, but we hope that it brightens your day! We apologize to our residents of Scottish blood! 

As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man; he had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper's cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country. 

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn't stop for directions. 

I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left, and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. 

I went to the side of the grave and looked down, and the vault lid was already in place. I didn't know what else to do, so I started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I've never played before, for this homeless man. 

And as I played 'Amazing Grace', the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept; we all wept together. 

When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full. As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, 'I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.' 

Apparently, I'm still lost ... it's a man thing. 


Strength for the day

Our CEO Hein Barnard has a book on his office desk, “30 Thoughts for Victorious Living” by Joel Osteen. This powerful message to carry him through another tough day was on yesterday’s page: 

“Heavenly Father, thank You for making me strong through adversity. I thank You that because You are faithful to me, I can be faithful to you. Give me Your wisdom to make the right decisions today, and the strength to stand strong no matter what life brings”. 


Dave Barker, son-in-law of Richard and Stella Collett, has kindly tipped us off that his in-laws celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary today. Stella, always cheerful and positive, has been a resident in CP Bradfield Frail Care for some while, and Richard is in Cradock. They stayed in No. 9 Aldersgate from Jan 2008 until August 2017. 

Hearty congratulations go to the Colletts from the MHA family!! 




 WEAR THE MASK! It’s “All I ask of you”*!! 

Wikipedia tells us: “A mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance, or entertainment. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremonial and practical purposes, as well as in the performing arts and for entertainment”. So, now we know! 

Face masks have been increasingly worn in recent years by people commuting and working in smog-choked cities, especially in Asia. Now globally they are an essential piece of body armour, in our fight against COVID-19. 

The Government Gazette of 29 April 2020, issued for Lockdown Level 4, says this: “A person must wear a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth when in a public place”. Based on this, CovidCom stated the following in yesterday’s Newsflash: “As strange as it may feel, PLEASE wear a mask whenever you are outside of the Village”. 

CovidCom has now received some enquiries and input about the best practice around the wearing of face masks by MHA residents. It is a fact accepted worldwide that people older than 65 years are most susceptible to catching the virus. We also know that, because of the MHA Lockdown rules imposed, it is most likely that a non-resident (staff/service provider/illegal visitor) could bring the virus into our facilities, but a resident could bring it in after being exposed to an infected person in the public domain. 

With this in mind, CovidCom has decided that what is best for all MHA Village residents is for it to be compulsory to wear your mask whenever you move beyond your cottage or your private garden area. Yesterday evening’s “bulk SMS”, in this regard, refers. Please also appreciate this: we have the residents in 319 cottages, and other facilities, to consider, when making decisions in the best interests of all. 

So, if you exercise or stroll in your village, please wear your mask. If you go beyond your village, please wear your mask. If you ever want to audition for PEMAD’s “Phantom of the Opera”, wear your mask! 

Please forgive CovidCom for the very occasional change in direction; we are learning hard as we go  

(* “All I ask of you” is the hit song from the ‘Phantom’ musical/opera; it’s today’s bit of useless information!!) 


A thought for today: 

Health does not always come from medicine. 
Most of the time it comes from peace of mind, peace in heart, peace of soul. 
It comes from laughter and love. 
(author unknown) 

Forty days into Lockdown: 

We are truly blessed to have positive people like Rev Robin Wright of Annesley Gardens to turn to, for some inspirational words to share with the MHA family today, 40 days into Lockdown. He responded with 161 words within 40 minutes; how appropriate! Here is his lovely message for us today, and as we continue on this topsy-turvy journey: 

“Forty Days......Noah, his cargo and crew experienced forty days and forty nights of rain; we have had beautiful weather for most of our forty days. Jesus spent forty days in the Judean wilderness, during which time he was severely tested [tempted]. The Hebrews spent forty years in the desert before entering the Promised Land, and during this time they learned many things to prepare them for nationhood. 

It seems that we may have learned a number of things during our forty days of lockdown. Did you see the brilliant moon against the clear blue sky last night? It was magical; no smog, no pollution. Have you noticed the butterflies, the increased presence of birds? Maybe there’s something there for us all to learn. 

Biblically, forty is used for an extended period, often resulting in a positive outcome. 

Our own forty days may well have similar results, even if only an appreciation of the great outdoors or the street where you live”. 


When hugs and kisses became weapons: 

This piece is attributed to the author Haroon Rashid: 

“We fell asleep in one world, and woke up in another. 
Suddenly Disney is out of magic; Paris is no longer romantic. 
New York doesn’t stand up anymore, the Chinese wall is no longer a fortress, and Mecca is empty. 
Hugs and kisses suddenly become weapons, and not visiting parents and friends becomes an act of love. 
Suddenly you realize that power, beauty and money are worthless, and can’t get you the oxygen you’re fighting for. 
The world continues its life, and it is beautiful. It only puts humans in cages. 
It is sending us a message: “You are not necessary. The air, earth, water and sky without you are fine. When you come back, remember you are my guests”. 


All you need to know about Lockdown-Level 4!! 

  • Level 4 means Level 4 
  • Level 4 is not Level 1 
  • Level 4 is between Levels 3 and 5 
  • Level 4 will take you to Level 3 if you treat it like Level 5 
  • Level 4 will take you back to Level 5 if you treat it like Level 1 




You must exercise your rights! 

The Newsflash sent last Thursday 30 April mentioned this: “Yesterday’s announcement (by Government) said that citizens are allowed to walk, cycle and run between 06h00 and 09h00 daily, within a 5 km radius of their home. CovidCom is urgently analysing that, as there are conflicting views, so please await a further announcement from CovidCom before venturing out”. 

In the absence of the anticipated “conflicting views”, CovidCom then realized that a delay in expressing a firm opinion shouldn’t wait, and so a bulk SMS was sent to all Village residents on Friday evening, stating: “CovidCom has reviewed the exercising rules. Residents ARE allowed to go out and exercise between 06h00 and 09h00 daily, within a 5km radius of your Village. You must wear a mask. Please don’t walk on your own, or carry/wear valuables. Stay safe. Hein”. 

This new exercising rule relaxation (don’t these complementary underlined words just sound like music!) will go a long way to curing any “cabin fever”, but we need to share the following: 

  • CovidCom was cautious in approving the new rules, only in the best interests of residents’ safety 
  • As “senior citizens”, no one should have to remind you about safety, and how to behave! 
  • As strange as it may feel, PLEASE wear a mask whenever you are outside of the Village 
  • The number of those poor souls rummaging through refuse bags left on verges each morning has grown exponentially since Lockdown; they are desperate, and could easily resort to criminal acts to get money to buy food. So please walk in pairs or more (organized groups are not allowed; you’re old and wise enough to decide how to interpret, and comply with, that!) 
  • Stay in bed until sunrise!! It’s still dark at 06h00 


The largest tyre manufacturer in the world (by units produced)? 

We set this quiz question in Friday’s Newsflash. The picture should have provided a clue, if you are the observant, analytical, “left-brained” type. 

Answer? LEGO!!! 

When the numbers were checked a few years ago, Lego produced 318 million tyre units in a year, followed some way behind by Bridgestone (190m), Michelin (184m) and Goodyear (180m). Now for some more trivial information to fill your day and your mind: 

The name 'LEGO' is an abbreviation of the two Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. The LEGO Group was founded in 1932. By 2015, 600 billion Lego parts had been produced since inception; 20 billion LEGO elements (bricks etc) are made every year in the LEGO factory, equivalent to approximately 2 million elements an hour or 35,000 a minute. So now you know everything! Tell your grandchildren.


CovidCom’s meeting on 28 April 2020: Some feedback: 

Three or more CovidCom members interact daily, and meet almost daily, in order to deal with operational or strategic matters of importance, as MHA continuously prepares itself for the battle ahead. This is how, thank God indeed, we are keeping ahead of the game, as we dedicate our people and our resources to protecting our residents and staff, to the very best of our ability, across all of our facilities. 

All CovidCom members met on 28 April (and, yes, it was in a remote sanitized location, and all eight attendees were more than 1m apart, with masks and hand sanitizer in evidence). Members of the MHA family may be interested in some of what was discussed and agreed at that meeting: 

  • It was reiterated that CovidCom is a committee mandated by the Board of Directors to make operational decisions relating to Covid-19. The Board will only be called upon when major decisions need to be made. All meetings dealing with Covid-19 are minuted, and copied to all Directors 
  • Some residents are showing signs of stress, and not coping well with Lockdown. Managers should liaise with Sr Gillian le Roux accordingly, so that counselling and assistance could be offered 
  • All necessary PPE (personal protective equipment) had been procured, and issued to staff 
  • More sophisticated thermometers have been purchased, so that the temperature of every staff member is taken three times per shift, and recorded, and taken of residents in Frail Care once daily 
  • As from Tuesday 5 May an “invisible wall” will be created between CP Bradfield Frail Care and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters, to prevent movement of any resident of one visiting the other. This will help in isolating the one from the other, in the event of the virus entering either facility. Access by nursing, cleaning and catering staff will continue to be strictly controlled. Residents of both facilities have been very understanding and accepting of this hard decision, which they know has been taken solely with the best interests of residents and staff in mind 
  • The 4-6 bed Isolation Room is ready, if and when needed. Specialized barrier suits are ready too. 


Plenty of wining and whining at Aldersgate! 

Residents in two cottages at Aldersgate had a bit of fun recently, putting out signs on their street-facing lounge windows. The outcome of both pleas is as yet unknown, and remedy beyond the authority of CovidCom or MHA! 



 The “Lockdown Countdown” clock above is becoming complicated! Lockdown at what became labelled as Level 5 commenced on 27 March for 21 days, and was extended on 17 April for a further 14 days; 35 days in total. Today we begin the first day of Lockdown: Level 4. So, we’re into Day 36 today. Exciting!!! 

Is COVID-19 writing a new world order? 
These MHA Newsflashes are not the forum for debating or unpacking what effects Covid-19 will have on the world at large, into the future. What is certain is that virtually everything will change in one or other way. The world as we knew it has gone forever, and that’s probably not a bad thing, in so many ways. The global communities must come together, as one, to choose the best, and discard the rest. It’s not up to politicians, the mega-rich nations and individuals, the whizz-kids and tech-savvy entrepreneurs to drive the changes, to suit themselves best; under the heads of grey hair (or no hair!) resides a huge wealth of knowledge, wealth and experience, and just plain common sense about what is right and best. Let your voices be heard! We live in an interesting age! 

Every day one reads of the positive changes which Covid-19 has already brought to the new world: 

  • Smog reductions in major cities across the world, which were being choked to death, have been significant (New Delhi down 60%, Wuhan 44%, Mumbai 34%, Los Angeles 31%, New York 23%) 
  • Wild animals are behaving differently; penguins walking on Simon’s Town streets, prides of lions soaking up the warmth on tarred roads in Kruger, birdlife returning to Wuhan and other cities and to gardens globally. They are responding quickly to the absence of human disturbance 
  • The bottoms of Venice’s canals are visible for the first time in centuries. Many species of fish have returned. Miraculously, some of the holes in the ozone layer are beginning to repair themselves 
  • A vast number of people whose professions allow them to work from home are now doing so, and efficiently too. What future effect will this have on traditional offices in high-rise buildings, and the need to commute daily, when we start leveraging technology to enable new ways of working? 
  • At last, humanity at large is beginning to fundamentally understand the huge gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”; real liberty, shelter, access to regular food and clean water, basic education, healthcare and hygiene, safety and security, employment and a decent living wage, protection from abuse of whatever type, and marginalization in every shape or form. What “humanity at large” is going to do to urgently address this is anyone’s guess right now, but forming a ‘new world order’ United Nations or similar organization to shape a sustainable, peaceful and tolerant and more even new world would seem to be a good starting point. Also, there is an increasingly loud call for religious leaders to help show the way. 

We must not go backwards from here. In effect, Planet Earth has been given a second chance. 

The daily constitutional!! 

One interpretation of this old-fashioned expression is: “It is something that one makes time for on a daily basis for the betterment of one’s individual's health, the most common one being a daily walk”. CovidCom is aware of the importance of mobile residents being allowed to exercise, and so even before Lockdown Level 1 we put a plan in place for that to happen, even in the face of some confusion about what was permissable or not. To the best of our knowledge, no resident was arrested for any transgression! 

We have had a lot of positive feedback in this regard. With his permission, we share with you one such bit of feedback, received via, from Neil Anderson of Aldersgate: 

“Thank you for allowing us Aldersgate golden oldies to exercise in our complex. 

Here is some useless information. One lap of our complex is just over half a kilometre. According to the counter on my cellphone, from Friday 27th March until Sunday 26th April I have walked over 160,000 steps, which is 151 kilometres, in 34 hours at an average of 4.4 km/hour. I usually do on average 10 laps a day, 5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. Another resident, who prefers not to be named, is also doing at least 10 laps a day. It's time to get out and walk around in the streets!! 


Neil Anderson, Aldersgate” 


It’s a long weekend, so let’s end off this Newsflash with some light-hearted stuff. 

Question: What is the name of the Company which produces the most tyres in the world annually, by unit volume (not revenue)? 

Bridgestone? Continental? Michelin? Goodyear? Yokohama? Another? 

Answer: This will be revealed on Monday! 


Lastly, don’t try this at home! 

WIFE: “Did I get fat during Quarantine”? 
HUSBAND: “You were never really skinny” 
TIME OF DEATH: 30 April 2020 at 21h35 
CAUSE OF DEATH: Coronavirus 



 Captain Tom Moore is 100 today!!

We featured this remarkable man in the Newsflash of Friday 17 April 2020. Since then, more remarkable things have happened in this man’s life, and worth sharing:

  • Today there will be a military “fly over” of his home by ex-RAF Spitfire planes, to salute the man
  • The Royal Mail created a special postmark, and all UK stamped post up until tomorrow will be marked with: ‘Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore, NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020’
  • When we last reported, his fundraising had generated 18 million Pounds; the fund hit 30 million GBP today!!
  • He has said he will continue walking up and down his garden for as long as people keep donating
  • The money raised is being spent on ‘wellbeing resources’ for health care workers, such as counselling, care packages, and ‘wobble rooms’ for them to express emotions in during traumatic shifts. Some of the funds have also gone towards electronic devices for patients whose families cannot visit them, to help them stay in touch
  • More than 140,000 birthday cards have been sent to the school which Captain Tom's grandson attends, and have been spread across the Great Hall floor there
  • The popular song “You'll Never Walk Alone” has become an anthem for UK medical staff during the Coronavirus pandemic. Capt. Tom’s duet with Michael Ball (Phantom of the Opera etc) and the NHS ‘Voices of Care’ choir, recently recorded, is the fastest-selling single of 2020, and he is the first centenarian to ever get to Number 1. This new version features an introduction from Capt. Moore, who speaks the lyrics: "When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don't be afraid of the dark. At the end of a storm there's a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark."
  • Guinness World Records has recognised Capt. Tom with two separate world records; as the largest fundraiser ever in an individual charity walk, and as the oldest person to have a number-one single on the UK charts (he beats previous record-holder Tom Jones by over 30 years!).

We salute Capt. Thomas Moore; he is an example to us all, especially now, but also forever.

Lockdown Level 4: some of the changes:

We received this e-mail from our CEO Hein Barnard this morning:

Greetings to everyone. I trust that you are all keeping well. Your tolerance and patience is commendable!

I am so proud of what our President has done during the Lockdown period. I am, however, perplexed by some of his subordinates’ vague announcements; there are more questions than answers.

 Via today’s Newsflash I would like to address some of the Lockdown changes announced last night on TV, and effective midnight tonight (but please note that some of these may change in the days to come):

  • Wearing of masks is obligatory when outside your residence (within the complex or in public)
  • A strict curfew applies between 20:00 and 05:00 (you must be in your home)
  • There is a limit of three people per private vehicle (all must wear masks)
  • Church meetings or other public gatherings (other than <50 at funerals) are still not permitted
  • ‘Hot cooked food for home delivery’ is allowed (but you will need to go to Village gate to receive/pay)
  • Sale of alcohol and cigarettes is still prohibited
  • Yesterday’s announcement said that citizens are allowed to walk, cycle and run between 06h00 and 09h00 daily, within a 5 km radius of their home. CovidCom is urgently analysing that, as there are conflicting views, so please await a further announcement from CovidCom before venturing out.

I also want to bring the following to your attention:

  • Exercising at any time (other than 20h00-05h00) in your Complex’ grounds remains “business as usual”, as previously indicated. Enjoy!
  • As from tomorrow, residents may mow their own lawns (or your neighbour could do it for you)
  • No recreational/personal visits to another cottage are allowed (it’s the law)
  • Part N of the gazetted change to the Disaster Management Act (Level 4) states that: “Live-in staff, and staff providing care to the sick, mentally ill, elderly, people with disabilities and children” will be allowed to work”. CovidCom has decided not to allow domestics and gardeners to return to work, under Level 4.
  • Only emergency repairs will be undertaken
  • No hairdressers will be allowed onto any MHA premises
  • Libraries and Community Halls within MHA Villages will remain closed. Stay safe



Okay; enough serious stuff for today! Let’s welcome the long weekend in with these wise words:



LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+13=34 

 Is anyone else out there feeling sad at times and needing a good cry? Anyone else with that sinking feeling in the pit of one’s stomach called anxiety? 

It happens when one sees so much sadness in the world! 

Note to self: 

  • Missing the physical presence of children, grandchildren, those we love, dear friends and worrying about their safety, is understandable 
  • The social isolation that is becoming more difficult as one longs for the freedom of movement to walk and talk with friends and to worship in Community are basic human needs 
  • Thinking about the possibility of contracting this virus oneself is real. Will I survive? I might die! Am I ready for this? Are my affairs in order? Am I doing enough to stay safe? 
  • Hearing of the pain of people dying alone, loved ones not able to be present to say goodbye, is heartbreaking 
  • At this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, sadness, anxiety, fear, even anger, are understandable human responses. 

What to do? 

  • I need a listening ear, someone who cares enough to not judge me, just hear me, not give me false assurances 
  • I need to give myself permission to cry, to shed heartfelt tears. Even cowboys cry! 
  • And to know that screaming and raging can be prayers. 

One of my favourite quotes, from Joyce Rupp, is helpful: “ May you welcome the tears you shed as friends of your soul, gifting you with an opening to release your pain” 

When the “storm” passes, as it does, and I begin to feel that release, I am free to feel gratitude, an attitude of the heart, count my Blessings and watch them grow. 

I need to remind myself…..”This too shall pass”. 

(This heartfelt and encouraging article was written and submitted by Sr Lesley Lawson, who serves on the MHA Board, is our Community Services Director, and is also Chairperson of St. Francis Hospice, where she continues a 34 year involvement)  

Urbi et Orbi: 

Below is the first part of Pope Francis’ address during the Urbi et Orbi (“To the city and to the world”) blessing he delivered from the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 27 March 2020 (coincidentally the start date of our SA lockdown), while praying for an end of the coronavirus. 

“For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel, we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat….are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying ‘We are perishing’, so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this”. 


Reaching out to others: 

MHA has received some approaches from residents about what they, and their communities, could or should do to reach out to others during these trying times, when hunger and desperation is everywhere. In particular, those kind-hearted folk are concerned about MHA employees, or those people employed privately to help clean cottages or maintain gardens and who cannot currently work, or the indigent aged beneficiaries of our Nikithemba outreach project. This concern for others is laudable. 

However, this really is a Catch-22 situation. Providing food parcels to staff or contracted workers could place them at significant risk when they walk home after dark with a bag of groceries. The five Carers employed to deliver concentrated fortified food packets to the sixty Nikithemba beneficiaries (who each receive four packets per week) are also unintentionally being put in harm’s way, by delivering the food. The parcels get taken to Gqebera township by MHA employees using a MHA vehicle, and they too are being exposed to danger. Giving cash to vulnerable people also creates problems. 

The Nikithemba challenges are work in progress for MHA. That project will be under review when time allows, and when those involved can meet together again. Nikithemba as a ministry has served a wonderful purpose for fifteen years, and we need to continue with it, perhaps in a changed format. 

Regarding gifts to non-MHA employees, MHA regrettably cannot offer advice or guidance with that. 


Woolworths at Access Park: 

As of yesterday there were ten positive Covid-19 cases at that store, which many nearby MHA residents frequent. The entire workforce there has been substituted, and the premises sanitized, as a precaution. 

CovidCom does not believe that this should be cause for alarm, or that MHA residents or staff should avoid shopping there. It is like every other retail store across the City, across the world; anyone, whether staff or customer, could enter the store when carrying the virus. You should all be practising the obvious safety precautions anyway: sanitize as you enter the store, maintain a safe distance from everyone, and sanitize once you have unpacked at home. Also, PLEASE wear a face mask whenever you are away from home. As from Friday 1 May 2020 it is going to be mandatory, so get into the habit NOW!! 



LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+12=33 

 We all deserve a pat on the back, and a medal pinned to the front; we have survived Lockdown Level 5, and only “three more sleeps” before we go to Level 4! Then moving to Level 3 will depend on the spread or containment of Covid-19, and on how the public responds to the restrictions and safe behaviours which must be part of our daily livesPoor discipline or non-compliance could land us back at Level 5. 

Level 5: life under lockdown: 
Level 5 is the hard lockdown South Africa has come to know: only essentials may be bought, and only essentials may be made. We will be moving to Level 4 on Friday 1 May (but probably not Durban) 

Level 4: essentials, and a little bit extra (but including a nightly curfew 20h00 to 05h00): 
As from 1 May we’ll be able to buy even non-essential stuff from stores already open to sell food, including tobacco products, but not alcohol. 
Postal delivery will resume, and we will be allowed to exercise more than just to/from the postbox! 
E-hailing and taxis will be allowed at any time, but with limits on how many passengers each may carry.
Industries to re-open include: agriculture (including wine-making), open-cast mining, and all financial and professional services. 

Level 3: takeaways, alcohol, and clothes: 
Some domestic air travel will return, but with limited flights per day, and authorization required to travel.
You’ll be able to buy takeaway food and order from Uber Eats and Mr D. 
Online stores will be allowed to sell and deliver. 
Clothing stores will be open, and you’ll be able to buy hardware even if you aren’t a plumber. 
Alcohol will be on sale again, albeit during restricted hours. 
Also back on sale: stationery, cellphones and computers, and books. 
Industries to re-open include: carmakers, chemicals, and Transnet. 

Level 2: you can fly, and domestic workers return: 
Domestic workers will be allowed to return to work, and informal waste-pickers will be allowed on the street. 
You’ll be able to fly without an excuse, albeit only within South Africa. 
All retail, manufacturing, and construction will be allowed, with no capacity limits for miners. 
Also back: all government services, and installation and maintenance workers. 

Level 1: ‘restrictions’ on international travel: 
Besides hygiene requirements for public transport, the only limitation at Level 1 would be unspecified “restrictions on international travel”. This needs to be clarified, nearer to the time. 
CovidCom will try to keep you all informed of changes and provide more detailed information per Level, but we recommend that you monitor changes which may affect or interest you, via the media. 

Viva MHA nursing and caring staff, Viva!!! 
This Newsflash edition is dedicated to our Nursing and Caring staff, five of whom appear on our masthead for this week. Many staff leave challenging circumstances behind in order to get to work on time; they work tirelessly in carrying out their calling to care for the elderly, and then they go home at night or in the morning to a household which needs them and has missed them. Our private taxi service does help. 

We thank them and praise them for the work they’re doing; showing great courage as they work in an environment with an unseen enemy; attending to the various personal daily needs of frail people, administering medication, monitoring and managing and training, making sure that the facilities are clean, sanitized and compliant with laid-down procedures; counselling, and offering care and love, and stimulation to prevent boredom; preparing and serving meals, and keeping our kitchens hygienic and tidy. God bless all of you, and your families. 

Yesterday was Freedom Day in South Africa!!! 

As Apartheid was dismantled, a non-racial Constitution was adopted in 1993, and came into effect on 27 April 1994, the day the nation cast its vote in the first democratic election in the country. The ANC was voted into power, and Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the President of South Africa on 10 May, making him the country's first black chief executive. 

The elections were the first in which citizens of all races were allowed to take part. Millions queued in lines (remember the images, like above, of the snaking queues of patient people, waiting to cast their vote?!). Altogether, 19,726,579 votes were counted. The date 27 April is now an annual public holiday: Freedom Day. We didn’t enjoy much “freedom” yesterday----crazy times!! 

It is healthy to reflect. Which “snaking queue” did you stand in, more than a quarter of a century ago? Was the mood sombre or jubilant, or a bit of both? What were your thoughts, fears and expectations on that momentous day? Fast forward 26 years: we have so much to be grateful for, as South Africans.


LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+8=29 

  TGIF!! You probably all listened to our President on TV last night. The phased scaling down of Lockdown is going to be increasingly frustrating, but it’s the sensible and cautious route to follow, especially as South Africa is nowhere near witnessing, or even comprehending, the full fury of the Covid-19 monster. 

The shocking and unacceptable lack of health-related readiness and leadership within our Metro and our Province, as exposed during our Health Minister’s visit to the City on Wednesday, must not go unpunished. It is criminal that our hospitals are not ready; they are understaffed and under-equipped, there is a huge demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), and they are way behind what is needed in terms of testing and screening. If MHA could get its house in order by early March, and constantly improve and expand on what it needs to do in order to protect its citizens (the residents and staff), why can’t the provincial Health Department get it right? You all know the answer! 

We share an important message with you all on page 2, but first a bit of funny and some reflective stuff! 

The Dalai Lama said this: “Wherever you have friends, that’s your country; wherever you receive love, that’s your home” 


The following piece is attributed to Sonya Renee Taylor, an American author, poet, public speaker and educator: 

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-Corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature” 


MESSAGE FROM YOUR LIBRARIAN: Post-apocalyptic Fiction section has been moved to Current Affairs 

Our Nursing Services Manager, Sanet Marx, has received enquiries from some residents about what they should do if they show symptoms which they suspect is Covid-19. This is her message to all of you: 

Follow this procedure should you suspect infection with Corona virus: 

  1. If you have a medical aid: contact your doctor or go directly to the nearest Ampath or Pathcare. They have safe and secure drive-thru facilities for testing 
  2. If you don’t have a medical aid: go to your nearest clinic or to the Central Community Health Centre. Screening will be done there. If further investigation is needed, they will refer you to Livingstone Hospital where testing will be done 
  3. I encourage you to make use of the Whatsapp number below. They go through the screening questions and, depending on your answers, will recommend what should be done (eg. you are at low risk of having COVID 19 and won’t need to complete the risk assessment for the next 7 days) 

Step 1: Save the number to your Contacts on your mobile 
Step 2: Send the word "Hi" to Covid-19 Connect and start chatting 

I have tried both these numbers and they are active and working. 

These are the screening questions you will be asked: 

  • Have you noticed any recent changes in your ability to taste or smell things? 
  • Have you been in close contact to someone confirmed to be infected with COVID-19? 
  • Do you have a pre-existing medical condition eg. lung disease, heart disease, diabetes with complications, TB, HIV? 
  • Do you have a cough that recently started? 
  • Do you have a sore throat, or pain when swallowing? 
  • Do you have breathlessness or difficulty breathing? 
  • In the last couple of days, have you experienced pain in your body, especially your muscles hurting more than usual? 
  • Do you feel very hot or cold? Are you sweating or shivering? Do you have a temperature? 


We need to close off with a reminder about socializing: 

1. Lockdown prohibits a resident from visiting another resident in his/her cottage or room 

2. Similarly, a resident cannot leave his/her village and pay a social visit to another person 

This is currently the law of the land; it’s not just MHA’s rule. There are unfortunately a few serial offenders in this regard; the consequences of breaking the law are yours, not ours. We ask all residents to comply. 

Enjoy the long weekend. Planning anything special?!!! Back on Tuesday!! 


LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+7=28 

 The Covid-19 vaccine 

It is a scientific certainty that a vaccine will be produced within the next 9-18 months, which we all hope and pray will rid the world of the Covid-19 scourge. How much damage globally the virus will cause until then, in terms of health and economy, is anyone’s guess. We must remain confident in the knowledge that the best scientists on the planet are constantly in their laboratories, seeking the magical cure. There is obviously a humanitarian end-goal at play here but, let’s face it, the first pharmaceutical company across the finishing line will make a tidy profit too! 

Vaccines have been with us for a long time. Some of the significant inventions were: 

Smallpox      1796    Tuberculosis            1922 
Leprosy        1873    Yellow fever             1930 
Cholera        1880    Poliomyelitis            1952 
Typhoid        1880    Measles                   1953 
Diphtheria     1891    Poliomyelitis (oral)  1955 

Almost every present MHA resident was alive during WWII (some born well before then!), and so were alive when Poliomyelitis caused so much devastation and heartbreak during the 1950s. Many parents were so scared of the Polio epidemic which occurred each summer that they kept their children away from swimming pools, or sent them to stay with relatives in the country, as they waited for a vaccine. When the Polio vaccine was licensed in 1955, the world celebrated, and Jonas Salk, its inventor, became an overnight hero. Do you remember lining up at school, or at a clinic, to be administered your sugar cube with a dose of the vaccine placed on it with a glass dropper?! Or was it given via a painful injection?! 

Edward Jenner, known as “the father of vaccinations” invented a method to protect against Smallpox in 1796. The method involved taking material from a blister of someone infected with Cowpox and inoculating it into another person’s skin; this was called arm-to-arm inoculation. 

Science, and the fight against life-threatening diseases, has progressed so much since the dark days where there was just no cure. Smallpox is estimated to have killed up to 300 million people in the 20th century, and around 500 million people, including six monarchs, in the last 100 years of its existence. 

So, Smallpox was eradicated, thanks to the Cowpox disease affecting the udder of cows, and transmitted to other cows and to humans (like milkmaids and farmers). Can you just imagine the joy, and the blessing to the environment, to nature and to the world, if an animal disease called Rhinopox emerged, and if science needed to rely on a huge supply of healthy Rhinos in order to create a Covid-19 vaccine?! 

There is no egotistical intent on the part of CovidCom, collectively or individually, when we occasionally feature e-mails of thanks (sometimes edited, for space reasons) which are received daily via the link. We believe that they help spread joy and appreciation for what we, the MHA family, are experiencing in these challenging and often worrying times. Here is one from a couple resident in a MHA village (they requested anonymity): 

Dear all the CovidCom, 

We are so very, very thankful for all your guidance and caring that you are giving to all at Methodist Homes. We are so inspired and encouraged by your daily interesting and encouraging messages, not forgetting the essential laughs; surely they do help to keep us on the right path!! 

For all of us, it was disappointing that the Lockdown had been extended, but we do know that it is for our own good and, as the prayer says, to remember those who are less fortunate than we are, and there are many. We are also thankful to our beloved Father God, that He is hearing the prayers and cries of all His people, for the hungry and the marginalised, and we continue to pray that all the money that is being raised will in fact feed the desperately hungry, and help those who are unable at this stage to earn money to put bread on the table. How blessed we are indeed. 

I attach a poem, which was my Dad’s favourite poem, and we grew up with these words. I think that it will also help us to remain in the right state of mind and be bold in doing the right thing, and to continually praise and thank God for His Fatherly goodness and kindness to us all. 

  T H I N K I N G 

  If you think you are beaten, you are;
  If you think you dare not, you don’t; 
  If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t, 
  It’s almost a cinch you won’t. 
  If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost, 
  For out in the world we find, 
  Success begins with a fellow’s will, 
  It’s all in the state of mind. 
  If you think you’re outclassed, you are, 
  You’ve got to think high to rise, 
  You’ve got to be sure of yourself, 
  Before you can ever win a prize! 
  Life’s battle won’t always go 
  To the stronger or faster man, 
  But soon or late the man who wins, 
  Is the man who thinks he can!!! 



LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+6=27 

The state of the nation: 

Our President, Cyril Ramaphosa, continues to inspire a nation in distress and in grave danger. Guided and supported by his Cabinet and others, including the best financial, medical, strategic and organizational minds in the country and across the world, he continues to make bold, calculated and necessary decisions, in the best interests of all South Africans, but in particular those who are vulnerable in so many ways. Last night’s message to us was proof of this, even though he didn’t specifically mention “the elderly”. 

Yes, some citizens (probably including some within the MHA family) may disagree with these sentiments and/or with the President’s decisions and leadership, but he certainly cannot be accused of pussyfooting around at a time when bold decisions have been required, or in denial about what has already been proven and experienced in other countries, or engaging in peurile political game-playing, finger-pointing and bickering with “the opposition”, while Rome is burning. 

Our President has demonstrated, again and again, strength, courage, humility, a deep concern for all fellow South Africans across all strata, and he has personified Churchill-style uncompromising, focused, and strong leadership. Can you imagine where we would be today if Covid-19 had struck our beloved country during his predecessor’s tenure? 

The President will be addressing the nation again tomorrow night (Thursday 23rd), and he will be focussing on if and how Lockdown laws and restrictions can be relaxed in some or other way, to get our economy ticking over again, and getting people back to income-generating work. One thing is certain: Lockdown will not be lifted overnight, neither will normality return. Let us not speculate now; cancel the social arrangements you have made for tomorrow night, and watch TV!! 

We hope to unpack some positives with you on Friday. 


Our CEO Hein Barnard was told this by a friend of his: 

“I have sanitized my hands so much that I can actually read the crib notes I wrote on my hands thirty years ago, as a student”!! 


It’s all about timing! 

We have received material from two resident couples which describe instances of what timing is all about. The first story is about good timing; the second is a combination of both good and bad timing! 

Good timing (a new couple, who wish to remain anonymous):  

“We would like to express our great appreciation for everything that you are doing for all of us here in our village. It is great to receive the Newsflashes, keeping us up-to-date of the positives of what is happening in the MHA complexes and the wonderful work that is being done to care for everyone's needs. 

We were so lucky that everything worked out well for us to move here just before lockdown - what a blessing! It has given us time to settle and unpack at leisure. 

We felt so at home from the first night that we slept here, and know that this is the right place for us and that we are going to be very happy here. We look forward to the time when things will be back to normal.” 

Bad timing, but balanced with providence, joy and beauty (John and Liz Machin of Cassia Gardens): 

The Machins left for New Zealand on 14 February to visit their daughter and her family in Tauranga, North Island. In order for John and Liz to explore that beautiful country, they purchased a Toyota Hi-Ace with a high roof, to use as a “campervan”. They visited their best man for the first time since 1966, and then took the ferry across the Cook Strait from Wellington to Picton, South Island. In terms of beauty and spendour, South Island was everything that they had imagined, and hoped for. 

Nine days into the trip the weather was getting colder; too cold for warm-bodied Seffricans! They hadn’t even reached the planned highlight of Milford Sound, or Christchurch. In John’s words: “At that point the Lord took charge of our trip and our decision-making, and turned us around to return to the north of South Island forthwith. It was quite a disappointment to us but, in terms of what was about to hit us, it could only have been the Lord’s providence for us, and for our safety” They got to the ferry point in Picton, and eventually secured a booking to get themselves and the vehicle back to North Island, and to family. The ferry terminal was jammed with people and vehicles trying to get on what turned out to be the last ferry trip from South to North. They got back to Tauranga in the nick of time, before lockdown was declared nationally. As John puts it: “Had the Lord not turned us around we would most likely have spent most of the Southern winter living in our van in a very cold campsite”. 

So, John and Liz are reunited with the family there, which certainly has its blessings. When they left for New Zealand they were totally unaware of the impending pandemic, or how it would affect their lives. They have no idea how long they will be there, as they obviously cannot return to SA/Cassia Gardens as planned. They are safe, warm and happy, which is what is most important right now. They will return!! 


To close off, we received this positive message from a resident couple, who asked for anonymity: 

Good morning to the CovidCom, 

Your daily Newsflashes are becoming part of our lives; each day something new and different lifts our spirits, and gives us a connection with you that is, for most of us, a great plus; the efforts to ensure our safety and protection, from private taxis to extra bedsitter meals, and all the efforts in between is mind blowing. How fortunate we are to part of this great family. Take good care of yourselves; you are very special people. God’s richest blessings on all your efforts.


LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+5=26 

 When fishermen cannot go to sea, they repair their nets 

One dictionary defines “repair” as “to restore something damaged, faulty, or worn to a good condition”. Here’s a personal challenge which we risk sharing with you; what are you doing to repair yourself during Lockdown? With our diary pages currently blank, with our not being able to say “I’m just popping out for a bit” in order to avoid having to do something urgent around the house, and with our being forced to stay at home almost all of the time, this is perhaps the ideal chance to get stuck into some jobs, tasks or even the touchy-feely challenges which we have been putting off for far too long? The exercise might prove to be cathartic, or even an unburdening, or maybe just as simple as reducing clutter in cupboards, drawers, or in the garage? Maybe you would like to consider some of the following: 

  • Get all of your personal documents, papers and affairs in order (in time, others will be grateful for that) 
  • Do all the necessary filing (it’s the worst kind of job, but it will pay dividends when you/others need it) 
  • Go through all of those old photo albums (books and/or digital). Enjoy; keep the best; tear up the rest! 
  • Write your “life story”, even in point form (there is much about you that loved ones deserve to know) 
  • Phone/e-mail someone you care about, but haven’t expressed that for far too long. It’s never too late 
  • In some way, make a difference in the life of someone less fortunate than you are at the moment 
  • If you haven’t used it for six months (whatever “it” is), use it now, or consider finding it a new home 
  • Make a list of people where saying “I’m sorry” might be appropriate, and then make that call 
  • Prepare a formal “Action Plan” for say ten “fun” things you are going to do when Covid-19 is behind us 
  • Challenge yourself to make a few desirable changes in your life by the time Covid-19 is gone. 

There’s a useful analogy in the above title, lurking just under the surface! The fishermen and women (the MHA residents) cannot go to sea at present (Lockdown forbids that), and so it is a gift given to us (not being able to go to sea to fish, perhaps because of a storm coming our way) that we are confined to the safety of the harbour and our home (our beautiful MHA villages, bedsitters, and frail cares) until it is safe to launch our boats again (resume a measure of normal life, once the Covid-19 storm has passed). In the meantime, get out your netting needles, your shuttles and twine, and get stuck into fixing the holes in your nets; consider some tasks on the list provided, or tackle your own “To Do” list which is maybe beginning to get frayed around the edges! Here’s wishing you “Tight Lines” en “Stywe Lyne” with this. 

Safety and security: 

During this Lockdown period it is easy for us to be lulled into a false sense of security: no one is allowed to walk around, day or night, the army and police are out in force, and the incidence of crime is down so Atlas/ADT/others have more time to patrol. This picture is distorted; criminals don’t observe Lockdown or any other laws, the absence of people and vehicles makes it easier for them to move around, and the fact that people are in their homes for most of the day and night means that valuables (laptops, mobile phones, wallets/purses etc) are concentrated in one place. 

It gets worse. Hunger and lack of money is everywhere amongst the really poor people in our country, and they will go to desperate measures to put a bit of food on their tables. Those living with substance abuse will steal what they can, to convert into cash and then into drugs. History across the world tells us that the hungry poor will do anything to be fed; widespread stealing and looting will then be inevitable. This is a formidable challenge for our President, for national/provincial/local government, for civil society, and even for communities like Port Elizabethans and MHA family. We will get through this together, as a united nation. We are resilient and loving people; we must just work together. 

Here are a few tips for sharpening your Safety & Security protection: 

  • If you have Trellidor or Xpanda-type protection over your front/back doors, lock them every night 
  • Lock your front and back doors, your garage door and side door, and any sliding doors, every night 
  • Make sure that your Atlas panic button is within arm’s reach 24/7, especially at your bedside 
  • Keep a fully charged mobile phone at your bedside at night, and have a list of Emergency numbers 
  • Do not hesitate to push the panic button; if you hear a noise at night, and you know it’s not your neighbour, or your spouse snoring or your joints clicking or tummy rumbling, push the button! 
  • Do not go outside of your unit to investigate a noise or movement; leave that to Atlas 
  • Do not leave valuable items in plain view (eg. laptop, mobile phone, radio, camera, handbag) 
  • Lock all windows at night, other than one in the bedroom (Autumn is here, so it should be easy) 
  • Beware of pickpockets when you go shopping; only carry what is essential in your bag or pocket 
  • Where possible, only use an ATM situated in a busy shopping centre. Don’t accept offers of help 
  • Before leaving your village, make sure that all car doors are locked (and on your return trip too). 

Keep yourselves, and your neighbours, safe. 

BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Following a meeting with his Cabinet on Monday, President Ramaphosa will be addressing the nation on TV tonight; at this stage the time has not been announced. It will definitely be interesting, but probably full of news that we would prefer not to hear just before going to sleep, or at all  

Our President and our Health Minister have been clear and regular in their communicating to the nation, and we should all be hugely grateful for that. 


LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+4=25 

We would like to start the week by sharing with you some of what MHA has been doing over the past month to prepare ourselves for the potential Covid-19 onslaught. We believe that we have done a lot!! 

  • On Friday 20 March 2020 MHA locked down its two Frail Care units, its 3-bed Recovery Room and its two Bedsitter units, fully a week before Government implemented the national Lockdown 
  • The MHA Infection Control policy was updated, and strictly enforced via staff training and awareness. This includes the outsourced catering staff, and is ongoing throughout MHA 
  • Sanitizer dispensers are positioned throughout MHA’s facilities, and use of these by staff and any outsiders is enforced 
  • A dedicated private taxi service was hired, in order to collect all staff from their homes, bring them to work, and then take them home again after their shift. This too is ongoing 
  • Visitors are banned, and entry by staff is strictly controlled. This continues to be strictly enforced 
  • On arrival for their shift, all staff have a mandatory thermometer check, which is recorded 
  • On Friday 17 April a specialist cleaning firm sprayed both Frail Care units and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters with a high-level disinfecting and sanitizing agent, and this will be repeated every fortnight 
  • During these two procedures all residents, staff and even two pets were moved to the exterior of the buildings; it was a beautiful morning, and everyone soaked up the sun and the relative freedom! 
  • Regarding personal protective equipment (PPEs), all nursing/caring staff have been issued with a material mask (mouth/nose), as well as a full-face mask, as used in hospitals and operating theatres. Use of these is strictly enforced. Gloves are always available 
  • A dedicated 4-6 bed Isolation Ward has been established adjacent to CP Bradfield frail care, if and when it is required. Specialized PPE barrier suits are available for use by staff there 
  • The Matrons of both Frail Care units meet daily, in order to swap notes regarding safety and procedures, and to plot the way forward. The CEO is kept fully informed in this regard, and he informs the rest of CovidCom and the Board where necessary 
  • Occupational therapy has taken on a new emphasis, in order to avoid boredom on the part of residents. All staff were trained by our OT practitioner in this regard, prior to lockdown, and are actively involved in stimulating residents physically and mentally, as much as possible 
  • A dedicated mobile phone with Skype has been introduced at CP Bradfield, to enable residents and their families to communicate with/see one another, where this service is requested 
  • Bedsitter residents continue to enjoy breakfast and supper in addition to the lunch which is provided in terms of their monthly Levy. MHA continues to absorb the cost of these additional meals. 


The MHA Board, Management, CovidCom and staff are most appreciative of the many messages of thanks, praise and affirmation which are being expressed daily by residents, their families, and by others. It certainly motivates those entrusted with your safety and protection to be proactive, alert, and on guard. The e-mail link has certainly helped with communication, in this regard. 

We want to share this one with you (the author/resident asked for anonymity): 

“I want to thank you so much for the positivity and encouraging daily updates as well as the wonderful work you and the CovidCom team are doing in keeping all our residents safe and up to date. The lockdown instituted by MHA has definitely been very well worthwhile and commendable, as well as the rules for our safety and wellbeing. The Managers, staff and carers in our frail care facilities and Gillian are certainly doing a wonderful job from all accounts, and are definitely to be commended for being so ready to help where needed. Our own Manager and his wife are a shining example of this and very special caring people. 

Your Newsflash of Friday 17th is very heartwarming indeed. There is definitely something very special about World War veterans, not only for their efforts and sacrifices during the War but in their spirit. On my recent visit to the UK to visit my sick brother I was “taken under the wing” of (or as my husband jokingly called it “picked up” by) one of the veterans who was on his way to attend the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy landings at the time. What an amazing gentleman and one of the kindest people I have ever met. Having recognized that I was terrified of flying, let alone going all that way on my own for a particularly sad reason, he never left my side until we were seated on the plane, with him in first class thanks to the War Veterans Society who had invited him to attend and paid for his ticket, whilst I was in the “cheap seats” i.e. economy! He had some really amazing memories and stories which he shared with me, I suspect to keep my mind occupied while we waited to board our plane for the next leg of the journey. A reminder that out of terrible adversity came some truly fantastic, heroic people, and here we are again with adversity paying another visit to the world! Let’s hope we emerge with the same indomitable spirit those wonderful men and women did. 

Keep up the great work and thank you again for your and CovidCom’s efforts to protect us from all this sadness and madness in the world right now.” 

(The above cartoon tribute to Captain Tom, depicting a dapper, upright nonagenarian using his walker, and wearing his medals, appeared in a British newspaper. It says everything!) 


LOCKDOWN: DAY 21+1=22 

 At present, Captain Tom Moore is one of the best known and most loved people on the planet! He has seemingly risen from nowhere to the status of near national treasure. 

So, who is this man? 

  • He is a 99-year-old war veteran (India and Burma in WWII) who has raised more than £18m (that’s R420 000 000 as at yesterday’s rate!) for the NHS in England, and has been hailed as a "one-man fundraising machine" by the Duke of Cambridge, who is also quoted as saying: “It's amazing, and what I love also is that he's a 99-year-old war vet. He's been around a long time, he knows everything, and it's wonderful that everyone has been inspired by his story and his determination. Who knows what the final total will be. But good on him, and I hope it keeps going." 
  • Capt Tom, as he is affectionately known, began raising funds to thank NHS staff who helped him with treatment for cancer and a broken hip. It has now been expanded to embrace all those NHS workers who are currently on “the front line”, as he puts it 
  • He originally aimed to raise just £1,000 for “NHS Charities Together” by completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday on 30 April 2020. With the aid of a walking frame, yesterday he completed the 100 laps of the 25-metre loop in his garden in Bedfordshire, in 10-lap chunks, well before he has hit his century! 
  • As he finished the final lap he said: “I feel fine; I hope you’re feeling fine too”! 
  • More than 890,000 people have now made donations to his JustGiving fundraising page 
  • Half a million people have so far called for Capt Tom to be knighted, in a petition to the Honours Committee 
  • He has given these words of advice about coping with the Coronavirus lockdown: “You’ve all got to remember that we will get through it in the end; it will all be right. For all those people finding it difficult at the moment, the sun will shine on you again, and the clouds will go away” 
  • His daughter said: “He’s a beacon of hope in dark times, and I think that we all need something like this to believe in, and it’s for such an amazing cause”. 

What a pity that Capt Tom doesn’t live in South Africa, in one of our MHA villages; he would certainly fit in perfectly!! 

Raise a glass to this inspirational man!


Last night New Yorkers across the city lovingly belted out "New York, New York" from their windows, in a giant singalong meant to boost morale, and honour the city's essential workers. 

Led by the all-volunteer Peace of Heart Choir, everyone in the “city that never sleeps” was invited to sing Frank Sinatra's classic song for the event, dubbed "New York Sings Along," starting at 7.02PM. New Yorkers were encouraged to lean out of their window, or head out to their terrace, and raise their voice! 

Andrew Dykeman, the co-chairman of Peace of Heart Choir, said in a statement: "Today, our communities are disrupted—we cannot gather as we normally do to rehearse and perform, talk and discuss, drink, eat, practice yoga, meditation, exercise, or even work. At the same time, while so many of us are sheltering in place, others are New Yorkers tirelessly fight the global pandemic and help maintain essential services, laboring in the city’s hospitals, supermarkets, subways and buses, and more. As choir members, we know that singing brings people together. This is our way of sparking a greater sense of community, while still maintaining appropriate physical distance. We can raise our voices together to honor those who risk their lives every day to keep us safe and cared for. We welcome other choirs and singers of all ages, and from every neighborhood, to join in." 

In future weeks, the choir, which performs in the city’s nursing homes, hospitals and shelters, may choose different songs for the citywide performance. 

This is wonderful, New Yorkers; great stuff; inspiring. Your President and your impressive Governor should be proud of you. Seriously. 

But if only you could have heard what members of the MHA family have been doing since even before SA’s official lockdown, and what they still do; when night falls you’d have heard pots and pans being clanged together, glasses clinking, singing, shouting, clapping, whistling, shouts of encouragement and thanksgiving; even one crazy Manager running around making huge noise with her Vuvuzela! 

Now THIS is how you raise morale, honour, celebrate, spark a greater sense of community, to quote Mr Dykeman. 

As always, you need to learn from the “old and wise”, especially those who are part of the MHA family!!! 

Have a wonderful weekend. To our own “essential workers”, especially our nursing and caring staff, we give thanks each and every day for who you are, for what you are, and for the magnificent work that you do. 

Back on Monday!! 



Well, midnight tonight was going to be cause for celebration, as the twenty-one day Lockdown ground to a halt. All South Africans have been instructed to put the fireworks back in the cupboard, and the champagne back in the fridge, and stay home, as we now have a fortnight’s extension to endure. 

The disturbing images on TV, in the Herald and elsewhere are real; there is so much misery, hunger, frustration, fear, abuse, misinformation, denial and desperation “out there”; except that this time it is not in a Syrian refugee camp, or other community or country on which the world has turned its collective back. This time it is in our own back yard, not just “out there” somewhere, in a far-off land. Turning off TV or turning to the Sport page doesn’t make it go away. 

We, the members of the MHA family, are so blessed in so many ways. As a community, Port Elizabethans have always rallied together in times of crisis, and the rest of 2020 will require us to again come together as one, to do whatever we can to ensure that it’s not just the passengers travelling First Class who survive this disastrous trip. We will be called upon to open our hearts and our minds, and even our wallets, to be a part of the solution. 

There is truth and substance in the saying “Charity begins at home”. There are many MHA residents who are technically destitute, and MHA must and will respond to their plight. CovidCom and the Managers are in earnest conversation about this. For 2020, at least, “home” means the MHA community, but also the wider PE community. Where and how we are able to, we must all play a part (more on this soon). 


A friend of Margaret Kennedy (Annesley Gardens) shared this beautiful prayer, which we now also share: 

Our Heavenly Father, amidst all the sadness, worry and desperation that we are witnessing, across our country and the world, there has been plenty of time for silent reflection and so much to be thankful for. 

Our beautiful and diverse country; our mountains and our magnificent coastline; our wild life reserves and the open land of the Karoo. 

During these days of isolation we notice more readily the birds that feed in our gardens, the myriad of butterflies that pepper the air at the present time. You have blessed us with the wildlife big and small which brings us so much joy and entertainment, not only for us but the thousands of visitors to our shores annually. 

Lord we are so aware that all of nature in its magnificence is of your hand, and we are blessed to be part of your creation. Help us to look after our world better, to be better custodians, to be more respectful and caring, and to practice the best environmental principles as we move on and out of these difficult times. In all the world's beauty we see your image; a reminder, dear Lord, of how great you are and how blessed we are to have you in our lives. Amen 



  • Sunshine is not cancelled 
  • The Four Seasons are not cancelled 
  • Love and Relationships are not cancelled 
  • Reading is not cancelled 
  • Naps are not cancelled 
  • Devotion is not cancelled 
  • Music is not cancelled 
  • Dancing is not cancelled 
  • Imagination is not cancelled 
  • Kindness is not cancelled 
  • Conversations are not cancelled 
  • Waving is not cancelled 
  • Hope is not cancelled 





Good day, everyone. 

At a CovidCom/Managers meeting held this morning, there was a lot of positive feedback about what residents feel about the daily Newsflash editions, in general. We try to balance helpful information with some uplifting bits and pieces, and with some amusement thrown in! We try! 

Martin Schäfer, German Ambassador to South Africa, wrote a column published in News24 on 12 April 2014. It was full of praise for our President in making bold decisions, and also in facilitating the repatriation of 5000 German and other EU tourists who were stranded in SA. It is lengthy, and deals mainly with the repatriation mission (“Home is the best place to be, in such a dramatic crisis”, he said), but also contains encouraging general comments. Here are some excerpts from his article: 

  • They say that times of crisis reveal our true character. My personal experience in these challenging last few weeks confirms that 
  • In the midst of deep feelings of fear, anxiety and uncertainty, as well as understandable frustrations about the limitations brought about by the strict lockdown rules, there have been so many encounters of kindness, solidarity and humanity 
  • We can choose whether we act with resolve and courage or whether we procrastinate and dither. We can choose between repression or our unwavering trust in enlightened citizens. We can choose whether we indulge in selfishness, nationalism and fear or whether we strive to help the weaker, and live in a spirit of solidarity and empathy 
  • All of these choices will shape our lives; not only during the crisis, but far beyond 
  • Leadership is not about pleasing everyone; it is about vision, it is about the right balance, about taking informed and measured decisions, after scientifically-based advice by experts; it is about finding the right timing and the willingness to be bold and resolute, if necessary 
  • The virus doesn’t care about the colour of our skin, the passports we hold, or the country we happen to live in. It affects us all 
  • Enlightened citizens do not need to be forced to do what is needed; they understand that it is the right thing to do, and that these (lockdown) measures are necessary to save lives, and work to their own good. 

It is most encouraging when one reads or hears words of praise about leadership shown, hard decisions taken, early actions put in place, and the support for all of that by the population. We are blessed as a country to have a decisive President and Health Minister, and everyone marching behind them, to lead us forward into battle. So too is the MHA family blessed to have a decisive CEO and Nursing Services Manager, and everyone marching behind them, to lead us forward into battle. God bless them all. 

This is a wake-up call, and a plea, to humankind (author unknown): 
“And just like that, money, fame, power and beauty are worthless. 

Mother Nature’s message to us all: 
You are not necessary. 
The air, earth, water and sky without you are fine. 
When you come back, remember that you are my guests, not my masters” 


Being clean is a sign of spiritual purity or goodness, as in “Cleanliness is next to godliness”. This phrase was first recorded in a sermon by John Wesley in 1778, but the idea is ancient, found in Babylonian and Hebrew religious tracts. 

There was a classic piece of graffiti in Dublin in the 60s; on a wall was lavishly painted “Cleanliness is next to godliness”, and underneath someone had scribbled: 

(yes, but only in the Irish dictionary) !! 

Covid-19 has made us fanatical, almost insanely obsessive or paranoid at times, about cleanliness, washing hands, avoiding contact with others, social distancing, wearing a mask when shopping, or wiping down every imaginable surface with a nuclear-powered germ-killer. Most of this is essential, as the Coronavirus is spread primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes; generally you can catch it if you are within a two metre range, or by touching an infected surface or object. 

Is it any wonder, then, that Sanitization and Sanity are next to one another in the English dictionary?! 

COMING UP----------------- 

We’ll be focusing on what is happening in those MHA facilities where living independently or with some assistance is not a choice. We will share with you what we have been doing within our Frail Care units and our Recovery Rooms, even before the official Lockdown and since; how we have geared ourselves up to cope with the Covid-19 enemy; how our residents and staff are being protected; how we are keeping the facilities as germ-free as we possibly can; and what we are doing to keep loved ones in touch with residents there. The scenario changes daily, even hourly, and there is plenty going on in the engine room! 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray) 

CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” or “Newsflash” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the link. 



 Since the Newsflash issued last Thursday, quite a lot has happened. 

Firstly, the good news: Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!! We hope that you all had a Blessed Easter, albeit in circumstances probably unlike any other since WWII (a lovely nonagenarian resident in a MHA village recently shared that Easter 2020 would be the first one in over 90 years of her life where she wouldn’t be able to celebrate in a church). 

Secondly, and as you know all too well, Lockdown has been extended to 30 April 2020. As individuals, as communities and as a country, we are being tested and stretched in every way. We have to remain compliant, courageous, and together; more on that subject in the days ahead. 

For those residents who did military service, you will know what this means: VASBYT, MANNE!!! 


Members of your CovidCom, together with the Complex Managers, swapped notes over the weekend, around the merits or otherwise of re-opening the libraries in our six villages. There are compelling arguments for and against, and some requests and input have been received from individuals, for which we thank you, but this is what has been decided by the CEO, supported by his Managers and by the Board: 

  • The libraries must remain closed, at least while Lockdown remains 
  • The Disaster Management Act, which gave effect to the President’s declaration of a national state of disaster, is specific about what amenities may remain open, and which ones must close during lockdown. Libraries of whatever description must remain closed, and MHA cannot and will not contravene that ruling 
  • Three of our villages (Aldersgate, Wesley Gardens and Annesley Gardens/Sheariton) are bisected by public roads, which MHA residents should not cross. It would be unfair to open the library in any of those villages, as each village only has one hall/one library. 

MHA Management are keenly aware of the great value, entertainment, companionship and escape which books bring to residents. We regret that there is no alternative, at this time. 


Here is a saying, author unknown, which beautifully and simply highlights what we, as members of the MHA family, should try our hardest to embrace in this time of the Coronavirus pandemic: 

“It is in the midst of change we often discover wings we never knew we had” 


Thanks go to the ever cheerful, positive and community-minded Syd and Sheila Corbett of Cassia Gardens for contributing this piece (author unknown): 


A pencil maker taught a pencil 5 important lessons: 

1. Everything you do will always leave a mark 
2. You can always correct the mistakes you have made 
3. Most important is what is inside you 
4. In life you will undergo painful sharpening which will make you a better pencil 
5. To be the best pencil you can be, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the Hand that holds you. 


Our Nursing Services Manager, Sanet Marx, sent us a World Health Organization poster, containing excellent advice. The poster was in shades of blue, and wouldn’t look good in this photocopied Newsflash, so we have picked out the best bits to share with you here: 

  • Check the sources of anything you read; be careful of misinformation and fear-mongering 
  • Practice social distancing, but not social isolation. Keep in contact with loved ones as far as you can 
  • Speak about your anxieties, connect with friends over Whatsapp, and call your family 
  • Do what you can, and then let go. So much of this is out of your individual control now 
  • Take a social media and news break when you feel overwhelmed. It is important to sometimes limit the information you receive, until you are able to respond to it without panic 
  • Deep breaths; again, and again, and again 
  • Continue practicing self-care. Do what you can with what is available. 

And here is one which didn’t appear on the WHO poster, but it is hugely important to remember: 

  • YOU ARE NOT ALONE in this time of Covid-19 crisis, even if at times you feel that this is so. Please turn to your neighbour, to your Manager, to our Professional Nurse/Counsellor; you will be amazed at how many people are in your circle who will offer you love, comfort, protection, direction, strength, or a listening ear (you just won’t get that badly needed hug or social visit at the moment!). 


To end off, this silly piece has been doing the rounds lately. If it doesn’t make you smile, you have a problem.

Be careful; people are going crazy from being locked down. Actually I’ve just been talking about this to the toaster and microwave while drinking coffee, and all of us agreed that things are getting bad. I didn’t mention anything to the washing machine as she puts a different spin on everything; and certainly not to the fridge because he is acting cold and distant. In the end the iron calmed me down as she said everything will be fine, no situation is too pressing. The vacuum was very unsympathetic; told me to just suck it up, but the fan was more optimistic and hoped it would all soon blow over. The toilet looked a bit flushed when I asked its opinion and didn’t say anything but the door knob told me to get a grip. 

The front door said I was unhinged and so the curtains told me to---yes, you guessed it---pull myself together. 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray)  
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” or “Newsflash” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the link. 



 We have all heard the expression “The show must go on”. It means that the proceedings (whatever they might be) must continue, no matter what unfortunate event has occurred. This expression is also a theatrical credo dating from the 1800s and was transferred to other situations in the first half of the 1900s. Here endeth today’s history lesson! 

The first quarter’s edition of our Newsletter, “MHA on the Bay” has always reached readers before Easter. We are living in extraordinary times, which could produce pretty ordinary excuses, but this won’t apply to your Easter 2020 edition of MHAOTB; it will be delivered to your door (or, in the case of staff, into your hands) during the course of tomorrow, in time for Easter! Yes, the show must go on!! 

You will, we hope, forgive us when you discover that edition #29 (Easter 2020) is in fact “MHAOTB Lite”! Printers are closed during Lockdown, and in any event your editorial team believes that this is not the appropriate time in history to present a Newsletter crammed full of the usual feel-good material, covering events and happenings within our MHA world. So Edition #29 will be different, and shorter! It only has two articles, and we hope that you will still find them helpful, at a time when we need all the help and encouragement we can. 

We are grateful, as always, to Michele at CopyShop for her assistance with layout and printing. 


In last Thursday’s Newsflash #05 we quoted Rev Robin Wright of Annesley Gardens/Sheariton. The ever erudite Robin writes an editorial piece in his Village’s monthly Newsletter; his recent contribution was that good that, with his permission granted, we want to share it with all who read these Newsflashes (and here’s a “shout out” to all the readers from overseas and around the country---we know you’re out there, and we appreciate your positive feedback!!). This is what Robin wrote: 

“I have just read that William Shakespeare may have written some of his best plays during a period of isolation due to the plague. With that in mind who knows how this effort of mine may turn out? Perhaps it will still be avidly read 400 years from now? If you would like a signed copy, for posterity, please bring me a printed version after lockdown is over, and I will oblige [cost to be negotiated]. 

Much ado about nothing: Methinks not! There are people dying out there and some of us could join them, as we form one of the most vulnerable groups, the elderly, aged, mature, whatever. Northern Italy should be a sobering lesson for the likes of us. They have [had] an older community. So don’t write off the measures taken by MHA. I think at one stage we, MHA, were way ahead of Mr Trump and his casual ‘it will go away’ attitude. Our Management team were already busy making provision for our protection. It seems that the world agrees with what has been done – the lockdown is for our own good. 

As you like it: So let’s do what many of the inmates of Maximum Security facilities [prisons] do. They read, exercise, study, they learn trades and skills. I’m going to get back to playing my guitar, and if anyone wants to borrow my trumpet you are welcome [as long as you live at the other end of Annesley Gardens or in Sheariton]. My model railway needs a lot of attention, and there are some appliances that need fixing. I have a number of tuits in my garage which might be of help to someone. They are the very rare round ones and are so useful for getting things done; you know, all those little jobs that you will do when you get a round tuit. 

All’s well that ends well: This is certainly the hope of all of us, and is far more likely with co-operation from everyone, and minimal Taming of the shrew required from our Management or the State authorities. Minister of Police Bheki Cele has threatened ‘if you go to church on Sunday you will be jail on Monday’! 

Hamlet: It has the well-known soliloquy ‘to be or not to be, that is the question’. We are all encouraged to reduce risk to ourselves and our neighbours, to take responsibility for ourselves and others, to stop and think how our actions might affect someone else. To be the channel through which another became ill would be a terrible thing. How best can we avoid that? That is the question! 

CovidCom has wise counsel for us all, carefully and thoughtfully compiled by people who care, but they can only suggest and encourage. We have to respond: it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves!!” 


Who remembers, and listened to, “Test the Team” on SABC radio, from 1957 until the early 80’s? The team comprised Prof Arthur Bleksley, Eric Rosenthal and Grant Loudon. They were a formidable team, with prodigious general knowledge, and nicknamed “the three wise men”. In each weekly episode they were given entertaining brain-teaser questions submitted by listeners, which they had to answer, or be stumped. 

My favourite, which had the three wise men stumped, went like this: 

A man walks into his neighbourhood hardware shop (do you remember those, the mom & pop stores like Walmer Paint & Hardware cnr Main Rd/9th Ave, run by Vic and Joyce Hoxley?!), he points to a product, and the conversation goes: 

Customer: “How much are those?” 
Shopkeeper: “They are R5.50 each, sir” 
Customer: “Fine. I’ll have 87, please” 
Shopkeeper: “Thank you. That will be R11.00, please” 

What was the customer buying? You will have to wait until tomorrow’s Newsflash for the answer! 


We’re into Day 13 of Lockdown; the Terrible Teens. A psychiatrist said: “It's normal for teens to get moody, frustrated, and irritable from time to time.” Please don’t behave like a teenage brat today 

Malcolm Stewart (who reminds us all to Stay---Spray---Pray)  

CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” or “Newsflash” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the link. 




CovidCom has received reports from Managers that some residents either do not understand what Lockdown means, or are flouting the rules which are in place. PLEASE understand that the rules which MHA has imposed are in accordance with the Disaster Management Act, which actioned the President’s declaration of a national state of disaster. We have to comply. It’s the law. 

We therefore draw your urgent attention to the following: 

1. MHA turns a blind eye to your occasionally walking around the inner roads of your complex, individually or as a couple, because we believe that, as elderly folk, you have a fundamental right to exercise, to keep yourselves physically, mentally and emotionally in shape, to the best of your ability. Being in touch with nature, and waving at neighbours, is good for your spiritual health too! 

2. As far as possible, keep clear of the gates and the paths alongside the perimeter fences (we don’t want your walking to attract attention from nosey, jealous or vindictive outsiders!) 

3. Do NOT walk in groups, whether organized or not, and do not gather around in groups, chatting. Don’t convert occasional walking into social occasions; the risk of spreading the virus is there 

4. A cottage resident MAY NOT visit someone in another cottage, for whatever reason and in whatever circumstances, even if you think that keeping a 2 metre distance is okay 

5. You MAY NOT organize or hold a gathering in your cottage or on your patio, for example to play cards, hold a prayer meeting/bible study/church service, or for any other purpose. Likewise, you are not allowed to use any of the common property beyond your unit for these or other purposes 

6. NO VISITORS are permitted to enter any MHA facilities. There are a couple instances where residents’ family bring food. This is allowed, BUT those visitors are NOT permitted to enter a cottage to drop off the food, or to pay a visit, however brief. As tough as it is, respect the 2 metre social distancing 

7. LOCKDOWN means being locked down in your own home, physically distancing yourself from other people, and venturing out only to make essential purchases at your nearest supplier, or to go to the chemist or the doctor. That is the law, and is being practised almost worldwide right now. 

Please forgive the “lecture”, but complying with Lockdown is a serious, literally life-or-death matter. Consider this: if you get infected with the virus (for example, via someone in a shop) and you unwittingly pass it on to another person, then that’s two of you infected. You each infect one other person; that’s four infected. Then it becomes 8; then mathematically it becomes 16---32---64---128--- and on. Before you know it, a whole community or a city is infected. Yes, it is that serious. Please take it seriously. 

Hats off to the Hawtreys!!! 

Basil and Joan Hawtrey of Aldersgate are a gregarious, noisy, fun-loving couple. They are a valuable part of the social fabric of their village. Memories of the food and fun enjoyed at the “Basil’s Bistro” evenings will live on in history! 

On 18 February 2020 they set off on holiday to visit their microbiologist daughter in Phnom Penh, capital city of Cambodia, little knowing what lay ahead for them. While there, the Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing in China, but Cambodia was really not affected (there were 9 confirmed cases while they were there, and even now there are only 116 cases). Inhabitants and tourists moved about freely, most without face masks. Life was pretty normal in Phnom Penh, and for the Hawtreys. 

That was all about to change, as they prepared for their return to South Africa. At OR Tambo airport, before anyone disembarked, the SA Department of Health checked the temperature of every passenger on their flight from Hong Kong. In their absence overseas, MHA had locked down its Frail Care units, and partial lockdown of the villages had commenced. By the time that they landed in PE on 24 March, MHA had already been in touch with them, breaking the distressing news that they would have to return to their cottage in complete self-isolation, not even being allowed to venture out for a stroll, or go to the shops. So they were quite prepared when the country-wide lockdown came into effect on 26 March. 

Some of what they faced on their return to their cottage was: 

  • Aldersgate Managers Susan and Jannie Bosch kindly put some initial supplies in the kitchen 
  • Neighbours and friends kept them in supply of the basic requirements, and some meals 
  • Contact with the outside world was via phone, or chatting with their neighbours over the wall 
  • They couldn’t go beyond their stoep or back garden 
  • Joan got stuck into a 1500-piece puzzle, not yet finished. Basil lost 2kg!! 
  • They were stoic, accepting and courageous in dealing with fourteen days of complete isolation. 

Basil and Joan were “released from jail” yesterday; the first thing they did with their new semi-freedom was to hit the shops. They have stocked up on the essentials they had missed, and need. Joan expected some flowers, but instead Basil bought himself some chocolates and chips! 

Well done, Basil and Joan; you were cheerful and uncomplaining, and you are an example to us all  




 Today we pay tribute to our Managers. 

For some while now MHA has engaged the services of Charné Eaton, who is a Social Worker in private practice. One of the principal functions Charné performs for MHA is to provide supervision to our Managers, those who spend their waking hours caring for others. In simple terms this means that she engages with the Managers, individually or in a group, to provide them with a safe space in which to “offload”. Charné obviously can’t engage face-to-face with our Managers during Lockdown, so we share below, with her permission, what she recently communicated to all of them. It is inspiring and motivating, and worth sharing with the wider MHA family, as it contains lessons and wisdom for all of us! 

“I am pleased that I was able to connect via telephone/WhatsApp call to hear from each of you. 

It’s during these very strange and unprecedented times especially that technology can really work for us as we try to maintain connection. 

It is wonderful that you have such clear direction and clear expectations from Management who so regularly keep you informed and updated. I have no doubt that this must help tremendously to ground each of you as you navigate this very different situation. 

Choosing to be alone versus being forced to be alone are such different scenarios, and one in which different personalities will start presenting with unique ways of coping in this time of crisis. The part that brings a sense of hope is to remind ourselves, and fellow residents, that we are still in this TOGETHER even though they have to be APART. 

I have used the following two words, “Together Apart” as acronyms to convey some of my practical recommendations for my clients and supervision groups during this time. I hope this will be helpful to you as Managers. 


T= Continue to TALK to people using the telephone, email, WhatsApp voice notes etc 
O= OFFER emotional support and understanding during this time 
G= Practice GRATITUDE and express what you are grateful for 
E= ELIMINATE negative information overload 
T= TAP into your individual inner strengths and the strengths of those who care about you 
H= Try to stay in the HERE and now. Ask yourself: what can I do that will give me a sense of calm now? 
E= Acknowledge your EMOTIONS. It’s ok to be feeling confused and fearful, it’s ok to feel angry, it’s ok to feel lonely, it’s ok to feel frustrated... you are adjusting to very different circumstances 
R= RENEW your mind with God’s Word 


A= APPRECIATE that being physically apart is protective 
P= Give yourself and others PERMISSION to express themselves. Understand that we are all different and have different needs and different coping styles when we are in crisis 
A= ACCEPT the things you can’t control and the wisdom to know the difference 
R= Be REALISTIC by recognizing this situation is necessary for now, and comply with the regulations 
T= TRUST God and keep your faith, knowing that this is TEMPORARY. 

Your roles as Managers are essential in reassuring residents, remaining calm within the storm. Remember to rest and let go of those things you can’t control. I encourage those of you who need to debrief, to make use of telephone calls or e-mail me. The sense of responsibility to keep residents as safe as possible is weighing heavily on all of you and especially when we consider the frail care staff. 

I will be in touch via email with some tips on managing loneliness and sadness during times of lockdown. I invite you to let me know what your supervision needs are during the weeks that follow. Take care and keep safe”. 

Thank you, Charné, for the fantastic, supportive work you do amongst our hard-working Managers! 


A poem was written in March 2020, specifically about Covid-19, by Catherine (Kitty) O'Meara of Wisconsin USA. It has been inaccurately attributed to Kathleen O'Meara who was a writer during the late Victorian era; but she did not write a poem "And the people stayed home" about those who suffered during the Irish Potato Famine of the mid-1800s. That sets the records straight! 

Crediting "spirit" with the writing process, Kitty apparently matter-of-factly said: "I just kind of sat down and wrote it. I saw the maps of the receding pollution over China and Europe, and I thought, ‘There you go. There’s something of blessing in all suffering.' And I thought with my passionate love for the Earth, maybe that’s one good thing." This is Kitty’s inspirational poem, her dream of a better tomorrow: 

And the people stayed home 

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. 

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal. 

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed. 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” or “Newsflash” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the link. 



 Ideally this Newsflash should herald the arrival of Fantastic Friday or even Frivolous Friday, or usher in the weekend when you can continue to do the very minimum, but CovidCom want to share two pieces with you, both of which are in serious vein. We are, after all, living in serious times, not frivolous times. It is our hope that both pieces will be informative and be useful to you, as you cope with the road ahead. 

CEO Hein Barnard met with his Managers on 1 April 2020, and some of what was discussed in that meeting must be shared with residents, as follows: 

  • Only emergency repairs and maintenance will continue to be done 
  • Food and medical supplies delivered to cottages: no entry into a cottage is allowed 
  • There have been incidents where family came to visit parents; this is strictly prohibited 
  • Newspapers may NOT to be collected from the Manager’s office; other arrangements are to be made 
  • NO deliveries of food or groceries to the Manager’s office for distribution are permitted; this is deemed to be an unnecessary exposure of our Managers to the virus 
  • There are some isolated cases where residents require some tender loving care; some residents are struggling to get to grips with this unknown lockdown protocol, and with the virus threat. This has left a small minority of residents showing signs of sadness, or anger (not at MHA). This must be monitored and addressed by our professional nursing staff and the Managers 
  • It is gratifying to note that a spirit of camaraderie is evident throughout all Villages and the Bedsitters, with many residents asking Managers how they can help 
  • It was reported that very few residents visit our Managers’ offices during lockdown 
  • The issue of domestic services was discussed in detail. It was agreed that no further action will be taken during lockdown. We cannot expose our residents to any potential risks in this regard 
  • All Libraries are to remain closed 
  • Residents are permitted to continue walking within their Villages (try and keep away from perimeter pathways and gates). Social distancing and the “rules of the road” are to be strictly adhered to 
  • Residents are reminded that there are many hidden health risks associated with: 
  • Receiving medication packets from pharmacists 
  • Receiving cooked meals or groceries from shops (home deliveries e.g. Woolworths) 
  • Visits to shopping centres (touching any surface or product, not adhering to social distancing) 
  • The more visits made, more chances of contracting the virus 

Always view every situation from your “COVID-19” eyes – everything is suspect until you have sanitized!

“South Africa’s ruthlessly efficient fight against Coronavirus” 

This is the heading of an article published this morning by the BBC. In emphasizing his choice of headline, the journalist, their Africa correspondent Andrew Harding (who MHA acknowledges), begins his piece with a range of flattering and pertinent remarks. For example: 

  • “South Africa seems to have acted faster, more efficiently, and more ruthlessly than many other countries around the world” 
  • “Heading the fight against Covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa has emerged as a formidable leader; composed, compassionate, but seized with the urgency of the moment and wasting no time in imposing tough restrictive steps and galvanizing crucial support from the private sector 
  • “One rung below the President, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has likewise garnered near universal praise for his no-nonsense, energetic performance, and his sober, deeply knowledgeable, daily briefings” 
  • “A government so often attacked as corrupt and inefficient, and a private sector so often seen as aloof and greedy, are rising to meet what is widely anticipated to be the greatest challenge this young democracy has ever seen”. 

The article also unavoidably and truthfully paints a gloomy picture of what damage the virus could do. The journalist says: 

  • “Given that this (South Africa) is one of the world’s most unequal societies, it is already clear that the battle will be fought, lost, or won, in the country’s poorest communities” 
  • “It is also clear that---for all the impressive, skilled leadership available at the highest levels of the South African state, government, and private sector---years of cronyism, corruption and economic stagnation have damaged key institutions” 
  • “Those same concerns apply in provincial health departments, sometimes led by incompetent political appointees. They’re completely out of their depth, and very anti any co-operation with the private sector”. 

The message delivered in the BBC article pulls no punches, and what we have shared now is just a brief snapshot of the larger picture which the journalist paints. It is partly flattering and full of deserved praise, and it is partly a synopsis of the glaring, brutal truth about the challenges ahead. What is critically important, though, is that it emphasizes that South Africa, through its leadership structures, got off to a flying start (unlike the USA and Italy), and that government and citizens alike are taking Covid-19 seriously. We know that we are a resilient nation, we accept that we have been divided for centuries, we witness daily that factions remain, but right now we have to remain united as one, united as South Africans, and united in faith that we will defeat the monster which is trying to get through our doors. 

Make the most of your weekend, be kind and reach out to others, please don’t listen to depressing stories and news, and remain positive and healthy. Lastly-----Spray, and Pray!! 



 Heated conversations and debates continue countrywide around the government’s recent decision that residents in secure complexes (like a MHA village) are prohibited from walking around their complex. Yet you can go to a busy supermarket and manoeuvre your trolley along crowded aisles, dodging fellow shoppers and packers. Worse still, the government relented yesterday to pressure from the taxi industry, with the result that crowded taxis are back on the roads. So much for the double standards around “social distancing”! 

CovidCom will be issuing a directive as soon as the dust has settled, and a Government Gazette issued; until then, just obey the “rules of the road”, as described in a previous Newsflash! Watch this space! 

Throughout history there have been many famous people with the surname Wright. Examples: Frank Lloyd Wright (famous American architect), brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright (credited with inventing the first successful powered airplane) and Always Wright (patron saint of wives and women!). Then there is Robin Wright, retired Methodist minister and, together with his long-suffering wife Marian, a resident of Annesley Gardens! Robin recently sent this lovely complimentary message to CovidCom, which we want to share with you: 

On behalf of the passengers on flight MHA 2020 we want to say THANK YOU for the care and concern of those on the flight deck. None of us know just how much turbulence we are going to face, so we will keep our seat belts fastened and will only leave our seats to go to the little boys room [or go to powder our noses]. Thank You Captain. You and the flight crew are always in our prayers - God Bless You. 

We also want to share the e-mail message received at CovidCom HQ yesterday from Neil McLaggan, MHA Board Chairman: 

My Dear Friends, 

Lockdown has caused me to again read a book from years ago, titled “Churchill and Smuts: the friendship” by Richard Steyn. It relates to the enduring friendship spanning more than 50 years, firstly as enemies and later as soldiers in two World Wars, of two great men whose efforts significantly contributed to the liberty we enjoy today. 

For me, the analogy becomes significant when I think of you two (Malcolm and Hein) at this time, both soldiers fighting---albeit a different type of war---side by side, the one “Engels”, the other “Boer”!!! 

This leads me to record my personal admiration and immense gratitude to the whole MHA staff and you for your fortitude during this time. In doing so, I surely am echoing the sentiments of the entire MHA family to you and the Covid committee as well. 

With warm regards, and pride in your efforts. 

This beautiful piece was written by Donna Ashworth, an American author. We share it with you now, as a source of inspiration, and of hope for the future, which will surely come: 

“History Will Remember” 
History will remember when the world stopped 
And the flights stayed on the ground 
And the cars parked in the street 
And the trains didn’t run. 
History will remember when the schools closed 
And the children stayed indoors 
And the medical staff walked towards the fire 
And they didn’t run. 
History will remember when the people sang 
On their balconies, in isolation 
But so very much together 
In courage and song. 
History will remember when the people fought 
For their old and their weak 
Protected the vulnerable 
By doing nothing at all. 
History will remember when the virus left 
And the houses opened 
And the people came out 
And hugged and kissed 
And started again. 
Kinder than before. 


Dear Citizens 
During quarantine time it is considered normal to talk to your walls, plants and pots. 
Kindly contact us only if they reply. 



 It is sometimes not easy to achieve but, when things aren’t going as we would like them to do, we should do our best to take a moment to think of others less fortunate than we are. 

On Monday we were presented with the news that the SA Police Service have decreed that residents of complexes (like townhouses, and our MHA villages) are now prohibited from walking around outside of their house. This would impact negatively on MHA residents for a host of good reasons. The matter is the subject of further investigation by our CEO, so we won’t debate that issue today. Watch this space! 

On the same day, the lunchtime eNCA news channel 403 showed a reporter interviewing an elderly woman who had joined a queue at 06h00 in order to collect her SASSI pension pay-out for March, only to be turned away at 12h00 because “the machine ran out of money”. That woman, a chronic diabetic, had a headache, was shaking because of her sugar level and out of anger and frustration, and she then had to make her way home, without money and without any food to take back to her hungry dependants. Yesterday’s Herald told similar local stories of frustration, disappointment and desperation. 

MHA’s social responsibility outreach programme, Nikithemba, is a classic example of reaching out to those less fortunate than we are. This year heralds the fifteenth anniversary of our establishing this wonderful project; without interruption we have reached out to sixty indigent residents of the Gqebera township, providing them with nourishment and loving attention. Many are bedridden, all of them live way below the poverty line and, without exception, this Covid-19 monster has all of them in its crosshairs. Even in this time of Lockdown, and remembering that MHA is classified as an “essential service”, we continue to provide those beneficiaries with their weekly, potentially life-saving dry rations. This is how we are achieving it: 

  • Aldersgate Managers Susan and Jannie Bosch receive the bulk ingredients sourced from wholesalers and then, together with two residents, they pack the ingredients 
  • When they meet (yes, keeping a safe distance!) they pack 560 parcels, enough for two weeks 
  • George Bezuidenhout collects the packs from Aldersgate, delivers to Head Office, collects the week’s packs on a Monday morning, and then delivers to our dedicated Carers in Gqebera 
  • Those three ladies deliver four packets per resident per week (1 packet feeds 4 people), using trolleys which we purchased for them to distribute the food packs. 

The expression “the show must go on” certainly applies to Nikithemba, especially in these challenging times. It applies equally to the work which MHA does, across all of its facilities and services. In this regard we rely totally on the absolute commitment and professionalism of our staff, whether it’s the Cleaner or the CEO. On page 2 we share with you the letter which we addressed to our wonderful staff. 


Greetings to every member of staff, including the staff of EP Catering who work in MHA facilities. 

On Monday 16 March 2020 CovidCom (the committee set up within MHA to help manage the virus outbreak) sent out a letter to residents and staff. In that letter we explained what had already been put in place, and what further steps we might need to take. In these past two weeks so much has changed, across the world, as the Covid-19 virus spreads to every community in every country. In the past two weeks we locked down our Frail Cares and Bedsitters, and then came the national lockdown, imposed by our President. All of us, across the world, are living in difficult and uncertain times. 

The MHA Board, Management and CovidCom are doing everything in their power to protect our residents and our staff from the virus. This has called for some tough decisions, and putting into place new measures and procedures every day. We will continue to do this, until the virus is beaten. 

None of what we are doing to fight Covid-19 would be possible without the wonderful and dedicated work being performed by every member of the MHA staff. Our nursing staff, our carers, our cleaners, our Managers, our office staff and our catering staff have all done their best to come to work with a smile, and to perform their duties to the very best of their ability. We know that they then return home tired and weary, day after day, night after night, to look after those loved ones who they had to leave at home. We hope that you will share this letter with them, to let them know that MHA also values the support you receive from them. 

The Board and all of the residents of MHA salute you, one and all. Words really cannot sufficiently express the deep gratitude that we feel for the work that you all do, and for the way in which you do it. Even so, CovidCom receives e-mails and phone calls daily, from residents or from their loved ones who live nearby or overseas, telling us how grateful they are for the care and love which you, the MHA staff, give every single day. 

We ask and pray that you will remain safe and healthy, to enable you to continue to care for the 570 elderly or frail residents of MHA, especially those in our two Frail Cares. One of the world’s most famous nurses, Mother Theresa, said this: “It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts”. She did wonderful nursing and caring work; she was an angel. All of you are angels too. May God bless you, as you continue your work. 

With best wishes and gratitude. 

Board and Management of MHA 


On that positive note, look after yourselves, wash behind your ears (why were we always told, as children, to do that?!), look out for others, stay hydrated, and maintain a safe distance. This is not the year for April Fool’s jokes or hoaxes; let’s keep them for 2021.



 Let’s be honest; we all like a pat on the back from time to time. It’s human nature. It affirms that what we are doing is heading us in the desired direction. Receiving constructive criticism is also healthy. 

The Board, Management and CovidCom are grateful for the words of encouragement, whether by phone, WhatsApp, SMS or e-mail. We wish to share with you some of the kind and complimentary messages recently received from residents and their families (some edited, for space purposes): 

  • As an ex-nurse I congratulate MHA on their speedy, well thought out plan of action. Respect! 
  • Just want to say thanks again for all you are doing, your decisive steps and great communication. We are grateful for the team and your concern for those in your care. 
  • Our sincere appreciation and wholehearted support in this exceptionally difficult time. This also being Lent, dealing with this matter is our call to reflect, and take our own sojourn in the desert. 
  • Thank you for all that is being done in an attempt to keep us safe. Much appreciated. 
  • Bulletin received with a sense of Gratitude for the sterling work to date. Stay safe, you and yours. 
  • I would just like to express our appreciation for the actions, decisions and communication. 
  • It is worrisome to have a loved one far away but very healing to know that they are well cared for. Thanks to all the staff members, as we could never be able to repay them for their sacrifices. 
  • I would like to thank you all most sincerely for the magnificent management of the lockdown. Your newsletters, care and love are so very much appreciated--kudos and respect. 
  • We applaud your courage and foresight to take action when you did. Thanks for the updates as well. 
  • We want to THANK YOU for your efforts in keeping all of us residents secure and informed. Your action has ensured that fewer residents will be ill. Also that Frail Care is well-staffed. 
  • CovidCom kry 10/10. Groete. 
  • Thank you for all your efforts in keeping us all informed and inspired during this time, for the early and proactive stance taken, for the safety measures implemented, and for the staff being well cared for. We appreciate receiving regular news, and thank you especially for the beautiful prayers shared. 

If you see a member of MHA staff, voice your gratitude, give them the thumbs-up, or blow them a kiss (from a distance of at least two metres, please!). Our staff, especially those in the front line of the war against Covid-19, are displaying exceptional courage and dedication to duty, and to their calling. We will never be able to thank them enough, but let’s start now, and often. God bless our staff. 

Let us end off today with some wonderful wisdom, even if it is a bit tongue-in-cheek; some even applies to the challenges we’re currently facing! 

(This piece has been around for ages, but author and artist are unknown, so we can’t acknowledge) 


Everything I need to know about life I learnt from Noah’s Ark: 

  1. Don’t miss the boat 
  2. Remember that we’re all in the same boat 
  3. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark 
  4. Stay fit. When you’re 600 years old, someone might ask you to do something really big 
  5. Don’t listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done 
  6. Build your future on high ground 
  7. For safety’s sake, travel in pairs 
  8. Speed isn’t always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs 
  9. When you’re stressed, float awhile 
  10. Remember: the Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals 
  11. No matter the storm, when you are with God there’s always a rainbow waiting 

Now, wasn’t that nice?! 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our wonderful staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” or “Newsflash” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the link. 



 In preparation for this NEWSFLASH we asked three people for input which we could share with the MHA family. We hope that these pearls of wisdom and bits of advice will help you to cope. 

Board member Sister Lesley Lawson’s contribution: 

My thoughts are around our mental health! 

Today it feels good to lounge around in PJ's and lie on the couch, with permission! But......for three weeks, not good. 

I would suggest the following as some ideas to keep one's brain in good shape and hopefully, good mental health: 

  • Get up, showered and dressed, albeit in comfortable clothes. 
  • The days need structure, so make a list of things to do... Ideal to get those things done one puts off!! 
  • Try and have a daily routine and stick to it as far as possible. 
  • Limit the amount of time spent watching TV news. One needs to keep updated but it's depressing to watch all the time. 
  • This is a good time for reading, listening to music, doing a puzzle, crosswords, Sudoku etc. 
  • If you live alone make a plan to phone a friend each day at a certain time to check in with each other. Be alerted if they don't call or vice versa (but it can't be the Manager!!) 
  • Make use of technology.... WhatsApp, video link etc, to stay in touch with the outside world. 
  • Keeping a journal can be helpful, as is meditation; even breathing exercises can relieve the stress that will inevitably be felt. 

We need to acknowledge that being isolated for 3 weeks, whether alone or with family, is not the norm. It is a time like no other and brings frustration and fear. What if one gets the virus, will I die?! How can I kill my partner?!!!!! 

These are normal and understandable thoughts at times. If they become overwhelming it helps to talk things through with someone trusted. 

Hopefully we all have access to a kind, listening ear; or we can be that someone to somebody else. 

As I write this, I am aware of giving myself advice! 

This is day 4; strength for all the days as it gets harder to keep sane! 😎 

Warm regards. 

CovidCom member and MHA professional nurse/counsellor Gillian le Roux’s contribution: 

This first week has been just so unusual, but I see more support being needed as the virus drags on; then it will no longer feel as though we're on holiday!! Normally holidays fly by so quickly, and are soon over, but this will not be the case with Covid-19, neither is it anything remotely like a holiday for most people, young or old, rich or poor. 

We have quite a few residents who are on chemotherapy, and whose immune systems are totally compromised. They need a lot of emotional support, as they are fully aware of their increased risk exposure. Also, they have to go to the Oncology facility alone. It is a very challenging time for those who are having chemo and other medical problems, even more so when one adds the fear of the virus to it, or the sadness of distancing from a loved one in hospital. 

A resident at one of the villages had a stroke last week. His wife shared with me that she feels as though she “dumped him there to die”; she wasn't allowed to visit him, and their children are all overseas. She subsequently got permission from the hospital to visit him once a day; one bit of good news in an otherwise desperate situation. How very frightening this must be for that entire family. A lot of counselling and emotional support is needed; the MHA family should pray hard for families like these. 

CovidCom member/retired GP Dr Steve Meihuizen’s contribution: 

  • Covid-19 is spread by droplets with coughing or sneezing, at a 1-2 metre range, or by touching an infected surface. Therefore wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, as often as possible (preferably hourly), and use available sanitizers 
  • Do not shake hands, or hug. Stay 1-2 metres away from another person 
  • Do not touch your nose, ears or mouth with your hands 
  • Keep a distance of 2 metres from other people if you cough or sneeze, and especially those who are coughing or sneezing 
  • The virus lives for a variable time on different surfaces; about 6-8 hours on clothing to about 12 hours on stainless steel. Clean these work surfaces with antiseptics or heat 2-3 times per day. Washing clothes in the usual way is sufficient 
  • Drink plenty of liquids frequently 
  • Keep as physically fit as your circumstances allow 

Look after yourselves, look after others as much as you can, and be as positive as possible.

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman (and on behalf of the Board, Management, our wonderful staff, and CovidCom) 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the link. 



If you have been watching the SA news, reading the papers and listening to the radio (which we urge you to do), you will probably be just as confused as the CovidCom members are at times. The goalposts just keep on moving! However, things should settle down. 

CovidCom wants to use this particular Bulletin to try to dispel some of the fears and an apparent lack of understanding which are surfacing about Lockdown. Many residents have posed questions to their Manager, and we thank you for speaking up. As we learn and experience more, we will share the information with you, so that our “jail time” will be as painless as possible. If ever there was a time for living in community, supporting and loving one another, and for listening to facts, but not fake news or rumours, it is now, and the stronger we will be as we, the billions of residents on planet Earth, journey into the unknown. 

Maybe our response to some of the FAQs (frequently asked questions!) will help you: 

Q: I have a job (not a defined “essential service”) to go to. Can I still go? 
A: No No No! Please understand only people working in an essential service, as defined by law, can leave their home and go to work. Should a MHA resident fall into this category, you will need to get approval from your Manager 

Q: Can I go to my doctor/a hospital to keep an appointment, or to receive medication or attention? 
A: You must not compromise your health, but you need to avoid going to a doctor or hospital unless it is an emergency or a threat to your wellbeing. You must check with your medical practitioner or advisor before going there. Now is not the time to be near a hospital, unless unavoidable. If you need help, ask for it. 

Q: A family member from another town has no job to go to at present. Can he come to stay with me during Lockdown? 
A: No, he cannot. Firstly, travel is forbidden during Lockdown. Secondly, the primary reason for Lockdown is to be isolated from others, as far as possible. Visitors to a MHA facility during Lockdown are forbidden; they too must abide by the Lockdown laws. This includes family (but see next question) 

Q: A family member helps me with my shopping, and getting to my doctor, as I don’t have a car. Can this continue during Lockdown? 
A: Yes, it can continue, but on a limited basis. However, such arrangements have to be restricted to pick-up and drop-off. The family member cannot combine this duty with a social visit to your cottage, or to take you on a detour somewhere. Limit your exposure to infection 

Q: What happens if I have a plumbing/electrical emergency in my cottage during Lockdown? 
A: Refer this to your Manager, who will make arrangements to assist you 

Q: I use an outside cleaning service in my cottage. Can I continue with that? 
A: No, you cannot. 

Q: Must I confine myself to the inside of my cottage and my piece of garden for the duration of the Lockdown? 
A: No. The primary purpose of the Lockdown nationally is to minimise the chance of the virus spreading (you getting it from others or giving it to others). It is probably going to be easier to catch the virus while walking down a supermarket aisle or at the check-out counter than contracting it within a MHA facility. So, until the authorities say otherwise, you may walk around the inner streets of your village. We urge you to obey the simple “rules of the road” in this regard; keep to the left, do not cross over the imaginary white centre line, and keep at least one square metre distant from anyone else. Please remember that you cannot go outside the perimeter of your village, unless going to the shop, doctor or the chemist 

Q: Can residents visit each other in their cottages? 
A: No No No. By doing that you have broken isolation. You could then give or get the virus. This is what Lockdown is all about----do everything possible to avoid the spread of the disease. This applies to neighbours, family, friends---everyone 

Q: Can we get together to play cards or a board game or cards? 
A: No No No. See above for the reasons why you cannot do that, during Lockdown 

Q: Are we to remain in our cottage/apartment, and not go out at all, until Lockdown is over? 
A: See above for our current ruling on walking about the streets of your village. The new laws governing Lockdown state clearly that you may go to a supermarket/food shop to make occasional purchases, or to go to a doctor/vet or chemist. Please remember that you need to avoid social/personal contact with others when you venture out in public 

Q: What about the hairdresser or foot/hand nail practitioner who comes to my village? Can I still use her services? 
A: No. Those don’t qualify as “essential services”, and so they cannot visit your cottage/village 

Q: What will happen to the existing and approved arrangements regarding delivery of food? 
A: Such arrangements should continue as before 

We are facing tough times indeed; within MHA, in our city and country, and across the world. By complying with the Lockdown rules and laws, we’ll all be playing a crucial part in preventing the spread of Covid-19. 

We urge you to comply. 

Keep safe, sanitize as often as you can, keep well hydrated, and love your neighbour. God bless you. 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman 



It is likely that almost all residents will have watched President Ramaphosa on TV last night and/or will have read the front-page news in today’s Herald. We are living in unprecedented and extraordinary times, which require radical measures and changed behaviours. If you want a copy of the President’s TV address, please contact MHA via 

CovidCom met yesterday, and three members met again this morning. The landscape is changing at such a rapid rate that some of what we share with you now may be changed or updated by this afternoon! Let us share with you some of what we know, or are dealing with: 

Our Villages: 

  • “Lockdown” means that every citizen in the country, who is not involved in essential services or processes, must be confined to home during the 21 day lockdown period, other than to go out to do essential food shopping, buying medicines, or visiting a doctor. Otherwise you must stay in or around your cottage 
  • Doing shopping must not be a social occasion. Only visit your doctor by appointment 
  • MHA residents must not pay social visits to fellow residents or to outsiders, but it does not mean that you will not be allowed to wander around your village. Exercise is critically important for your physical, mental and emotional health right now 
  • Visits to your village or cottage by a non-resident is prohibited during lockdown 
  • The practices of sanitizing hands and keeping at least a metre distant from others cannot be emphasized enough. Do it all of the time, everywhere! 
  • PLEASE avoid spreading fake news or rumours. If you cannot be absolutely certain of the veracity of a piece of information, don’t share it. Negativity is the “other virus” we must fight against. Also, spreading fake news is now a punishable crime 

Our Frail Cares and Bedsitters: 

  • These facilities have been in lockdown for some days now. Residents must be applauded for the way in which they are coping with these unique and difficult times 
  • We are constantly looking at ways in which we can ease the disruption, the anxiety and the loneliness which lockdown brings. The needs and concerns of residents’ families, whether living in PE or across the globe, are also being addressed. We will be announcing some ideas in the coming days, in this regard 


  • Now, more than ever before, we need to be thankful for our dedicated staff who provide care and services across all of our facilities; all of them fall within the “essential services” category mentioned last night by the President. We have 112 staff serving the needs of 570 residents, and we must encourage and thank the staff whenever we can. We have been richly blessed by God for their presence, their passion, and their commitment to duty. 
  • The CEO and Nursing Services Manager, supported by others, are currently looking at very way in which we can ease the burden of staff at this challenging time; the issues of transportation to/from work and workplace hygiene are top of the list (since this morning’s meeting, we have secured the dedicated service of a minibus taxi to collect each Frail Care shift from their homes, and to return them after their shift). We continue to act swiftly and decisively, wherever we are able to do so. 

Head office: 

  • Hein Barnard and his Management team are also learning more about how a range of new factors might influence the smooth running of the MHA business during lockdown. Some examples are: 

             - Seamless continuation of the Atlas Security and Gardmed services 
             - The regular collection of domestic and other refuse 
             - The uninterrupted supply of healthcare products (sanitizers, gloves etc.) 
             - Back-up plans for every possible contingency, including actions to be taken if a Frail Care
               shift is compromised for any reason 
             - As Head Office will also be in lockdown, plans are in place for staff to work from home, so
               that business needs are met. 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the link 


As we implement our final “lockdown” steps, we have erected appropriate signage throughout all of our facilities. They look like this: 

We have received several e-mails via our tool; some have passed compliments and votes of thanks on the MHA leadership, and for the tough decisions made; some have asked pertinent questions which have been answered within a day; and sadly some have expressed selfish concerns and/or demonstrated ignorance about the monster about to confront us in the City, and at our own doorsteps. The MHA Board and the Management team have gathered the best information and advice at our disposal, and have had the courage and the commitment to then act accordingly, in the best interests of our residents, staff and loved ones. We are prepared and armed to meet the Covid-19 monster at our doors. The only frustration is that we have yet to learn how big it is, or what it looks like. 

What has changed since the last Bulletin? 

  • Judging by what comes out of the White House almost hourly, the USA has significantly upped its game in terms of communicating with fellow Americans, and their Healthcare and Pharmaceutical sectors are collaborating in a positive way, as they try to “flatten the curve” by limiting infection at the outset, rather than play catch-up down the line. 
  • Covid-19 is now present in all 50 US States. 
  • Since Wednesday, Covid-19 cases in RSA have jumped from 116 to 150, at the time of preparing this Bulletin. By the time that you read it, it will be much higher, over 200. It will now escalate exponentially, as it has done everywhere else. 
  • Under new SA government regulations, no one within the country is allowed to refuse testing or treatment for coronavirus. 
  • The new regulations also place a ban on alcohol sales at clubs, pubs, restaurants and liquor stores between 6pm and 9am Monday and Saturday, and after 1pm on Sundays and public holidays.
  • The Zion Christian Church announced that all its events related to its annual pilgrimage to Moria in Limpopo have been cancelled. The Methodist Church had also announced the cancellation of Easter events, and the Muslim organisations have announced the cancellation of Friday prayers 
  • Judging by the brief remarks made by the Eastern Cape Health MEC on AlgoaFM this morning, little confidence was engendered that our Province, and its two Metros, is anywhere near ready for the flood of testing to be done, or for isolation of those infected. Watch this space .
  • Yesterday the residents of CP Bradfield Frail Care and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters were treated to a wonderful lunchtime braai. Today it’s the turn of Epworth Close to be spoilt. In the midst of a storm there will always be a rainbow; we must just look out for them ;-) 
  • The gremlin which confused the numbering of our Bulletins has been dealt with. They are now correctly headed, and filed! 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the link.  

COVID-19: BREAKING NEWS #05     18 MARCH 2020

First, the good news: residents are not going to be bombarded with “Breaking News” bulletins on a daily basis!! Right now, clear and regular communication is essential, as it helps to avoid confusion and unhelpful rumours, reduces negativity and ignorance around the virus, it records MHA’s decisions affecting your lives, and will help in coping with the unknown. 

In the letter dated 16 March 2020 we made mention of a Support Centre being established. Manpower constraints dictate that, at this stage, we can only set it up as an e-mail resource; we can’t set up a “call centre”, and we don’t believe that there would be a demand for one. 

The Support Centre is operational. The e-mail address is Please voice your concerns and questions with that tool. However, please refrain from reporting that you can’t get toilet paper or hand sanitizer from your local Spar! 

You are requested to type in your surname followed by your village address in the Subject line of the e-mail (eg. Smith 33 Irvine Villa). If you are not a resident (eg. a family member), please type in “on behalf of” before the surname, in the Subject line. 

Two new bits of news: 

1. The revision of our Infection Control policy is complete, and every staff member is aware of its contents and requirements. Monitoring is key, and is being done 

2. CovidCom has co-opted Dr Steve Meihuizen as a consultant. He practised as a GP in Uitenhage for 35 years before retiring, and he will bring a wealth of practical medical knowledge and wisdom to the Committee. He will first assist us in sharing some simple but practical steps which we can all implement to mitigate the risk of the virus. We look forward to his input. By the way, Dr Meihuizen and his wife are recent arrivals as residents at Wesley Gardens! 

Those of you who are Herald subscribers may have read a wonderful “wake-up call” article in today’s edition, written by journalist Tom Eaton. I share the following edited extracts with you: 

  • This (the Coronavirus) thrives on confrontation. What is required of us is guerrilla warfare; a scorched-earth, fighting retreat 
  • In the coming weeks/months, each one of us must become a fighter in the resistance; we must set fire to its path, fight for every city, every block, every home 
  • If many of us are going to get this thing (the virus), we cannot get it at the same time 
  • Young and healthy South Africans must fight for those who are elderly or immune-compromised, citizens who already live up against hard, unyielding medical realities that give them no room for negotiation 
  • South Africans with more money and more choices must fight for the millions whose poverty leaves them uniquely exposed; compatriots who can’t self-isolate or work from home; who can’t stockpile groceries; who must, for as long as they can, stand in queues and then crowd into taxis and buses to avoid becoming destitute 
  • A pandemic is an exponential event, which means we must push hardest now, at the start of the curve 
  • Every hour you spend at home rather than with friends is a thousand jobs preserved once the pandemic retreats 
  • As we pull back into our homes we will inevitably spend more time online, which means we will find ourselves adrift in a toxic soup of misinformation, disinformation and outright conspiracy theory. Just as we wash our hands, we must scrub our social media and sanitize our contact with the internet (and avoid gossip) 
  • More importantly, we must politely disregard those who are telling us that a global lockdown is an overreaction. The most certain way to be overrun by a virus is to wait until you’re sure you’re not overreacting 
  • Domestic workers are seeing their livelihoods evaporate. Soon it will be anyone who works in a bar, restaurant or hotel 
  • Last week was an age ago. Next week, things will look unrecognisably different. The numbers will start looking fairly frightening quite soon (in SA, 11 cases a week ago, 116 today) 
  • But have courage. Keep fighting. Because this will end. And if we contest every inch, we will help end it sooner than later 
  • Wash your hands. Self-isolate. Give the virus nothing 

(MHA acknowledges the author Tom Eaton/an Arena Group journalist) 

Malcolm Stewart 
CovidCom Chairman 

PLEASE REMEMBER: As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives:Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 

DISCLAIMER: MHA and CovidCom are endeavouring to regularly communicate useful or necessary information to our residents, staff, and the wider MHA family, so that we can all be best prepared to confront the COVID-19 monster at our door. To the best of our ability we ensure that the material shared is reliable and accurate, but MHA cannot be held responsible for any unintended errors or inaccuracies. Please immediately bring such errors or inaccuracies to our attention, via the link. 

COVID-19: BREAKING NEWS #04     17 MARCH 2020

Download the PDF version of this bulletin.

Even though the authorities tell us that there hasn’t been a detected case of Coronavirus in our Province yet, it could only be a member of the Flat Earth Society who would predict that the pandemic will bypass the Eastern Cape, or our City, or MHA. It’s on its way; we just don’t know where or when.

 The CovidCom team and MHA’s wonderful staff are literally working around the clock to be prepared as best we can. In line with what is being done across the globe, and in accordance with best practice initiatives recommended by the WHO, our government and other authoritative bodies, CovidCom has decided that the following drastic but absolutely necessary measures will be introduced:

  1. Total Lockdown of CP Bradfield Frail Care, Maranatha Frail Care and Bob Zeiss Bedsitters will take place. This entails the following:
  • No resident may leave any of these facilities, unless for emergency medical attention
  • No visitors (including residents from cottages) will be allowed to enter (exceptions will be made on compassionate grounds, by prior arrangement)
  • No delivery person will be allowed to enter any of these facilities; drop-off and pick-up will occur in parking areas, and will be controlled by staff members at the entrance to CPB
  • These steps apply to Bedsitter residents as well
  • The Hairdresser service will continue on the upper floor of Bedsitters, for the time being, and will be restricted to Bedsitter and Frail Care residents only
  • For the foreseeable future, breakfast and supper meals will be offered to Bedsitter residents, if desired, in addition to the existing provision of lunch. This will be at MHA’s cost
  • The pedestrian gate between CP Bradfield and Cassia Gardens will be closed
  • The lockdown will commence at 08h00 on Friday, 20 March 2020
  1. Thursday, 19 March 2020 will be the last MHA  bus transport for residents (Bedsitters, Epworth Close and all villages) to shopping centres, or for outings
  2. Should MHA experience an outbreak of the virus, a dedicated facility is now being prepared to serve as an isolation area
  3. Our Independent Living villages:
  • Lockdown of all community centres including libraries and hairdressing salons will occur; NO entrance to any of these facilities will be permitted as from after Thursday 19 March 2020
  • Blood pressure visits by Matron Sanet Marx are cancelled with immediate effect (individuals will still be visited)
  • The Domestic Housekeeping service is suspended after Thursday 19 March 2020
  • No external domestic housekeepers or gardeners will be allowed onto the premises after Thursday 19 March 2020. Residents so affected must notify their service providers
  • Special arrangements will be made for private Care Workers. Any resident who makes use of such a service must obtain written approval from Head Office to continue their service
  • Residents should refrain from visiting Managers in their office. Please make use of phones (mobile or landline) or e-mail to communicate
  • Only emergency maintenance will be done
  • The painting team will continue their work  on the exterior of all buildings


Please rest assured that CovidCom will regularly review the steps which are going to be implemented by week-end. We are adopting a “belt and braces” approach to the threats coming our way, because we see it as best practice right now, based on the globally sourced information before us.

 If ever there was a time for the citizens of this world to unite in love, support, disciplined behaviour and positivity, it is now. The Board and Management of MHA ask for your understanding and your support as we continue to cope with the unknown. CovidCom, the Board and all the staff of MHA are learning on a daily basis.

  I used a cruise liner analogy at yesterday’s CovidCom meeting. The good ship MHA has a competent group of Officers (CovidCom, the Board and the Managers) on the bridge and at the wheel; we have a cohesive and well trained crew of 112 (our staff), and we are dedicated to looking after the welfare of about 570 passengers (our residents across MHA). We are fully aware of the dangerous storm ahead of us (Coronavirus), but we cannot avoid it, and so we must do everything in our power to mitigate the risks, limit the damage, and have plans in place to protect the lives of all on board. We cannot and will not be complacent.

 Keep well, avoid crowded places, practice hand hygiene during all your waking hours, and love your neighbours by watching out for them.

Malcolm Stewart
CovidCom Chairman

Please remember: As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives: Covid-19 drop-down folder on our website. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed. 


Monday 16 March 2020, Notice to all residents (M Stewart, COVIDCom Chairman)

Clickhere to download the PDF letter from the Chairman.


You will all know something about this subject, whether a little or a lot. We wish to put it into context by sharing some insights and information with you. 

In the past few weeks the entire world has been turned upside down, on an unprecedented scale probably not witnessed since the outbreak of the Second World War. The Coronavirus pandemic (referred to as COVID-19) is manifesting itself across the globe; in some or other way the disease and its economic consequences and social impact will adversely affect the majority of the 7.8 billion people who live on this planet, and many will die as a result. There is no point in hiding the truth………read more.


Monday 16 March 2020, Notice to all residents (M Stewart, COVIDCom Chairman)

As we present new “Breaking news” bulletins, the replaced ones are being filed under the News tab, and then under the Archives: Covid-19 drop-down folder. Residents and family with access to internet will then be able to pull up previous bulletins, if and when needed.

Monday 16 March 2020 was another busy day for the CovidCom. We met with those Nursing Management and Complex Managers who were available to meet at short notice. Many issues had to be addressed, and many decisions had to be taken, to keep abreast of the scenario which we knew would change by the hour. Unfortunately our work is already being hampered by a handful of residents who spread rumours, try to second-guess what might happen next inside and outside of MHA, or who just enjoy interfering. Please allow CovidCom and MHA’s competent Managers and other staff to get on with the job of doing the best they can to ensure everyone’s safety, to mitigate the many risks, to minimise disruption, and to avoid any form of panic or resentment setting in. This is uncharted territory for all of us, so let us work together!

As mentioned in yesterday’s letter, we have established an e-mail link to enable residents, relatives and anyone else to communicate with MHA. The e-mail address which must be used is CovidCom will endeavour to respond to all e-mails received with the absolute minimum of delay possible. Please try not to make phone contact with CovidCom members or Complex Managers regarding any COVID-19 matters, unless really urgent.

On Tuesday 17 March further bulletins will be issued, which will spell out some changes which will come into force. A decision was made at today’s meeting that all bulletins and related documents will be placed on our website and a hard copy distributed to everyone in our Villages, Bedsitters, in CP Bradfield Frail Care, and to all staff.


Sunday, 15 March 2020, President Ramaphosa announced:

1. National state of disaster declared . Rapid effective response system
2. Limit contact with infected
3. Travel ban on foreigners from high risk countries as of 18th March. Visas cancelled.
4. SA residents to avoid travel to high risk countries. 
5. Travel alerts will b issued based in risk level.
6. SA citizens returning from high risk area self quarantine.
7. Medium risk country travel to b subjected to testing.
8. 72 ports of entry . 35 to be shut down. 2 Sea port to be closed.
9. Domestic travel discouraged. 
10. Gathering of more than 100 prohibited.
11. Small gathering organizer must have a plan. 
12. Schools to close on Wed till after Easter holidays.
13. Tertiary institutions to b consulted. 
14. All businesses to ensure they intensify measure re hygiene control. 
15. Shopping malls to ensure hygiene control measures.
16. Increase capacity of hospitals.
17. Monitoring system.
18. Mass campaign to educate. 
18. Minimize physical contact.
19. Funding available to  reinforce the systems inttoduced.
20. National Command Council to meet 3 x per week.