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Beating Covid: Moving to the village aided Kaija’s recovery

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By Alex Ashaba

Ms Bridget Kaija, an enrolled nurse at Kyenjojo Hospital in Kyenjojo District, started feeling unwell towards the end of June. She had fever, persistent cough and headache.

On June 30, Ms Kaija recalls that it was around 1pm after work that she decided to go for a Covid-19 test. The results turned out positive.

Ms Kaija suspects she contracted Covid-19 from a patient at the hospital.
“For the two weeks I was at the hospital, I was attending to some patients with signs and symptoms of Covid-19.

There was one patient who had TB but he tested positive for Covid-19 and was referred to Kampala. Another patient died before his results came through,” she recalls.

After testing positive, Ms Kaija went to her rented house near the hospital. She also told her friends and neighbours about her results. 

At that point, she says her neighbours started avoiding her. 
Ms Kaija then decided to lock herself inside the house until the next morning. She then decided to test her house help, whose results also returned positive. She, however, did not test her one-year-old child.

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“When I tested positive, I knew it was going to be a painful situation but I had courage that I would survive,” she says. 

However, her maid was worried and scared, thinking she was going to die. 

“I promised her that I would take care of her until she recovers and also I gave her counselling,” Ms Kaija says. 
It was a tough situation for Ms Kaija when her child also began feeling unwell. She then decided to call her father who came and took her to their home village in Kyankaramata, Kyenjojo District.

By the time they reached their ancestral home, the news about Ms Kaija’s illness had circulated all over the village.
When they reached home, Ms Kaija and her maid were all put in one isolation room. 

Ms Kaija says the news of her sickness scared the family members. 
She says by this time, the child had grown weak and was always crying.

“I remained in isolation with my maid sharing medication all the time and whenever I needed something, I would call my parents and they would bring it to the sitting room. Then I would go and pick it. They kept sanitising tables and chairs in the sitting room,” Ms Kaija says. 

One of the other tough moments, she recalls, happened on July 2 at around 3pm. She suddenly developed abdominal pain, high fever, chest pain, and started vomiting. She also got a running stomach.

“At that moment, I could not sit for three minutes. I was not sure what would happen next, I started developing fear,” Ms Kaija says.

Her father took her and the maid to Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital, while the child was left at home to be taken care of by other family members. 

“Developing abdominal pain was the most challenging moment for me. The pain was severe to the extent that I could not sit, eat or drink anything. When I tried to drink something, I would start vomiting,” Ms Kaija says.

At the referral hospital, the two (Kaija and her maid) were admitted for three days. She was given injections and on the third day, they started improving.

“On the third day, I started improving but was still positive. I told doctors to discharge me along with the maid because I feared that we would contract another variant of Covid-19 in the hospital. None of us was on oxygen,” Ms Kaija says. 

The doctors agreed and she was discharged while she had not yet tested negative for the virus. She says by this time, she was feeling a little chest pain and cough. The doctors advised her to keep on medication.

“When I reached home, I found my child had improved, she was now sleeping with my mother. I decided to stop breastfeeding her and she remained with my mother until my maid and I recovered,” Ms Kaija says.

All the family members managed to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) during so well that none of them contracted Covid-19 from Ms Kaija and the maid. Ms Kaija says some of the medication she used included Azithromycin, Amox, PCM, Zinc, watermelon, garlic, ginger, honey and lemon. She bought a bottle of Covidex at Shs50,000. All these, she says, helped her recover. The maid also took the same medication, including local herbs, with which they used to steam.

“Covidex helped me very much, whenever I could put it in my nose, the mucus would come out and I would start breathing very well. I disturbed my mother all the time to look for local herbs for steaming and she ensured that they were available all the time,” she says. 

In total, Ms Kaija says she spent Shs700,000 on treatment. On July 15, both Ms Kaija and her maid tested again and the results returned negative.

Support
Ms Kaija says when her friends got to know that she had Covid-19, many abandoned her. They did not even call to check on her. But one of them, Ms Zawad Namuddu, exhibited kindness and decided to go with Ms Kaija all the way to her father’s home and helped take care of her up to the time she recovered.

“This friend of mine cared about me all the time when I was in isolation. She came and remained at home, preparing for us juice and encouraging me to remain on treatment while other friends of mine abandoned me up to now,” she says. Other friends also sent her some drinks, food and money and her parents worked tirelessly to make her recuperate quickly.

Stigma
Ms Kaija says when she told her neighbors that she was diagnosed with Covid-19, they went ahead to tell all the people in the neighborhood, something that stigmatised her.

“Even the people who were not my friends came to know that I had Covid-19 yet I did not tell them. It tortured me and whenever I could hear people whisper that this nurse who works at the hospital has Covid-19, I would feel bad. Our neighbours at home stopped associating with my parents but later I overcame it,” she says.

Advice
Ms Kaija says suffering from Covid-19 is painful but patients need not fear that they will die.
She says people need to go for Covid-19 testing when it’s early because when it is detected at that stage, it can be treated. 

“When I tested positive, I texted many of my friends, some replied while others declined. Some decided to abandon me. I have realised that some people love me while others don’t,” she says.

Decline in cases
Uganda has registered a decline in the number of Covid-19 recoveries registered per day, according to the Ministry of Health data. In mid-July Uganda was registering more than 1,000 Covid-19 recoveries per day. However, this month, the number has dropped from 900 to about 700 recoveries per day.

Dr Charles Olaro, the director of curative services at the Ministry of Health, said it was early to make a conclusion on whether the cases have reduced or increased after easing of the lockdown.

“You cannot make conclusion in one week; you have to look at a period of three weeks if those figures will be constant for the next three weeks,” he said last week. “The effect of reopening up, you have to look at analysis of three weeks to tell whether the numbers have increased or not. If few people are getting infected few will be hospitalised and severe,” Dr Olaro added.

Common symptoms of covid
According to Ministry of Health, the commonest symptoms of Covid-19 range from fever, dry cough, tiredness to flu, aches and pains, sore throat, headache, loss of taste or smell, difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath and chest pain.

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