The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
COVID-19 cases continue to rise globally with about 91 816 091 confirmed cases, including 1 986 871 deaths, reported to World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday. While, Zimbabwe on 15 January 2021, had recorded 26 109 cases, 15 414 recoveries and 666 deaths.
A survey done by the Sunday News showed that most people who isolated after contracting the virus were surviving, with the national recovery rate at 59 percent as at Friday. Sunday News reporter, Judith Phiri (JP) caught up with Miss Sakhile Ndlovu of Burnside suburb in Bulawayo who is a Covid-19 survivor to give us an account of her experience after having been diagnosed with the deadly virus.
JP: When did you contract the coronavirus and what were some of the symptoms?
SN: It was Tuesday 10 November 2020 when I felt sick. I felt flu like sickness as if I was having a fever, my eyes were burning and it was like I was having a light flu which felt like it would be fully blown in two days’ time. My temperature was very high and I started feeling weak even in my joints. At first I never thought it was Covid-19, then while I was at work the following day I just thought let me knock off at 1pm and go home.
Then the following morning it was a Wednesday I couldn’t get up, I was just feeling sleepy and my body was just too heavy. I thought I will just have flu in the next few days and did not take it seriously. But I just had another feeling that it could be coronavirus.
I called my workplace and told them that I won’t be able to come to the office. So I slept the whole morning and woke up in the afternoon. I started coughing lightly and having some irritation in my chest. And then I spent the whole day sleeping. I couldn’t eat and as much as I love tea so much I could not even drink it that day. It became worse at night.
JP: What was the next step that you took after realising you had these symptoms?
SN: I would take a paracetamol and feel better but the next hour I would be feeling sick again. I took it over and over again but it was just giving me temporary relief because my temperature kept on rising. The following day I decided to go to Mater Dei laboratory where I tested positive to Covid-19.
JP: How did you take the news that you were Covid-19 positive?
SN: The same day I went for testing in the morning, at around 10.30pm in the evening they called and told me my results. That call and those words that I’m positive shocked me. I got chills all over my body and I was just like “Oooohhh okay” that’s what I remember saying to myself. Then they said I should not come to collect the results but to just isolate and they had given my number to the (Covid-19) Rapid Response Team. And all the information I knew about the coronavirus just vanished from my head because of shock. I was clueless and didn’t know what to do and it was as if I was hearing about the coronavirus for the first time.
JP: How did those you stay with respond to the sad news?
SN: I stay with my niece who is over 20 years of age, she was already sleeping and even though I was so shocked I just had to tell her. I knocked at her door and said I have bad news, I tested positive but she is a very strong-minded person and she just said it means I could also be positive and l said yes, exactly that’s what it means. So, she asked what should I do and I told her that they said we should wait for the Rapid Response Team. I asked her if she had any symptoms but she said not at all. She was very positive about it. The Rapid Response Team came to test her and she was negative. So, we didn’t know how because there was no social distancing between us but she never had any symptoms. Up to today she is still fine.
JP: What medication or treatment did you take?
SN: I read a lot about what to do and what to take. I took vitamin C and zinc tablets. I also drank a lot of ginger, lemon and garlic concoction. I had to steam with eucalyptus oil and sometimes with vicks or just plain water three times a day. I did not take any special medication for it was just those home methods that I used. I struggled with appetite a lot so just drinking the ginger, lemons and garlic concoction just saved the day for me, that’s what I lived on for most of the days.
JP: How did you spend your isolation days?
SN: I did a lot of thinking and reflecting during that time. I was counting days and there were times I thought I was going to die because of narratives that I used to hear that when you contract it you are going to die, so I didn’t really know at what point you die so that kept on coming to my mind. I felt like I was going to die during the night while sleeping and I think that’s what gets most of the people sick a lot.
But I was lucky because I knew a few people who has contracted it and survived so I gathered strength again from that. I lost weight because I was worrying a lot and the things I used to enjoy eating I could not eat them anymore but then slowly and surely it started coming back again. I made sure I ate a lot of vegetables, mainly fruits.
JP: How did people treat you afterwards when you disclosed that you once contracted the coronavirus?
SN: Stigma comes afterwards when you have survived, I started opening up to people bit by bit. When you have conquered it and are ready to go out you are cautious as much as possible. But people would give me an attitude, they distance themselves from me and do not want to be where I am.
People start avoiding you to the extent that two months after recovering I needed to travel to Harare and this person who knew I had contracted Covid-19 refused to give me a lift. People want to go and sit 10 metres away from you and you start having this sense of disbelonging which makes you keep on thinking to yourself that by the way I once had corona. People still don’t want to touch anything you touched even though you sanitised your hands. People still feel like you are a danger out there. I wish people could understand the education around it.
JP: Any word of advice to people out there who are living in fear of the pandemic?
SN: I will advise people that when you contract the virus don’t think you will die, the mindset is what you need to work on. This thing frightens you so much that you will start to think that you are going to die, this is what kills most people. Just be strong and remember that this thing comes and goes. Avoid crowds as much as possible, social distancing is important and follow all the other health measures seriously.