“My name is Grace Kiwummulo, a businessman based in Kisaasi, Kampala. My Covid-19 experience was a bitter one.
Some weeks ago, I developed signs of fever, which included general body weakness, shivering, flu and a serious cough, forcing me to go for testing for Covid-19.
I was not initially afraid when I tested positive but of course when you hear the death toll rising as hospitals get full due to the number of people being admitted, you develop some fear.
After testing positive, I worried that the disease was at its initial stage and that the symptoms would get worse as some people alleged.
I am not really certain where and how I got infected. Around that time, I happened to go downtown to Owino market, which was really congested. We were putting on face masks but there was no social distance, even in the taxis I boarded to and from town. Many people were putting on their masks but not the right way as recommended by health workers.
Also, two days before I tested for Covid-19, I met a friend of mine who was suffering from a severe cough and flu. I spent some time with him and then two days later, I got these symptoms which forced me to test. Therefore, I suspect I acquired the virus from one of those two places.
Because we are told that one can acquire the virus and take some a while to realise it, it is possible I got it in those ways. To be honest, I was not that conscious about the standard operating procedures (SOPs) such as wearing a mask and social distancing.
Once I knew I had Covid-19, I decided to self-isolate to avoid spreading the disease to my relatives and friends. I really felt like I had been abandoned because while in my room, the signs I developed got worse and I felt like I was going to leave alone for a long while.
I lost appetite, couldn’t smell anything, developed a headache and a running stomach. I became weak and had difficulty in breathing.
At that moment, I said to myself; ‘What if I fail to breathe and need assistance, who will really come to my rescue?’
I then started imagining the people in intensive care units (ICUs), those that go into coma and those that die after failing to access the oxygen.
It is at this time that I started thinking that there could be some health workers who intentionally hide oxygen with an aim of hiking its prices to the wealthy people who may need it.
I had never really taken coronavirus seriously but I came to understand its bitterness during this time of self-isolation. Thoughts of death started running through my mind and I had nightmares whenever I tried to fall asleep.
I at times got out of the house and went to buy some basics at the nearby shop but since I had revealed my status to them, they became scared of me. Whenever I went to purchase something, people would leave the way for me. This made me feel that I was really becoming a threat and isolated.
I was, however, an inspiration to them in preventing the virus because their face masks are now always on even after they tested for Covid-19.
While in isolation, my friends and relatives encouraged as they called me to always strengthen me and assure me that I could beat the virus. I am so thankful for my mother who really made sure that I got the necessary herbs, which she cooked and gave me to use for steaming. She always came to my house and encouraged me to take the doctor’s medication as well as the herbs.
I regained energy as days went by and my hopes lifted when I managed to eat something after five days of medication. I was only surviving on black tea and the herbs because I didn’t have any taste for food from the day I tested positive.
The time I have suffered with this illness has taught me not to take things for granted because I may end up losing your life if not careful. We also need to observe the SOPs as set by government as these will help us avoid the disease.
We should not also listen to every rumour, especially on social media where people gossip about anything they want, sometimes with the intention to mislead.
No need to hide
My advice to those who have not acquired it yet is to first of all accept that it really exists. Let them observe the SOPs and endeavour to stay home where possible now that the President advised us to do so. After testing positive, there is no need to hide the results because one may end up spreading the virus to the rest. It is better to share the information with others because they even end up guiding you on how to treat yourself.
I also advise friends and relatives of those who are sick not to abandon them because they end up encouraging them a lot, which is good as their minds tend to be filled with worry.
We can beat this virus if we remain positive and observe SOPs”
What experts say
With more than 90,000 people fully vaccinated with both the first and second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the urge to relax adherence to Covid-19 prevention measures is tempting.
But scientists have warned that those who are fully vaccinated still stand a risk of contracting the infection and that others may develop severe sickness and die, especially due to the new variants.
Prof Pauline Byakika, the infectious disease expert at Makerere University College of Health Sciences, told Daily Monitor recently that people should continue wearing face masks because the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t give 100 per cent protection from Covid-19.
“The vaccine protects you mostly against severe disease and death. It [also] protects you from infection but it is not a hundred per cent effective, so you should continue wearing your masks and observing other Covid-19 preventive measures,” she said.
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.
In some countries such as the United States of America, rules on wearing masks and social distancing are relaxed for those who are fully vaccinated, according to the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The country is using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which have the efficacy of around 95 per cent compared to AstraZeneca whose efficacy is 76 per cent.
Dr Misaki Wayengera, the head of the Government Scientific Advisory Committee on Covid-19, said although AstraZeneca vaccine protects recipients against delta variants of Covid-19, the level is low.
“The data we have shows that with the delta variant, the effectiveness of AstraZeneca reduces to 33.1 per cent at the first dose and after the second dose, it the increases to 51.7 per cent,” he said.
The country rolled out the second round of vaccination last month after receiving additional donation of 175,200 doses of AstraZeneca from French government.
The government has so far vaccinated 854,443 people, which is about 2 per cent of the population.
Dr Mukuzi Muhereza, the secretary general of Uganda Medical Association (UMA), said should the country adhere to SOPs, there will be noticeable decrease in new cases.