On August 4, 2020 when Mr Jaffari Basajjabalaba, the current Bushenyi District Chairperson, was going to be nominated as LC5 Chairperson candidate on the National Resistance Movement ticket for Bushenyi District, President Museveni, the NRM chairperson decreed that candidates undergo a mandatory Covid19 testing before they could be nominated, to avoid spreading the disease among the population. So Basajjabalaba went to Bushenyi Health Centre IV for testing, but he was referred to Kampala International University Teaching Hospital.
‘’My blood samples were taken and I was made to wait for three days; results indicated that I was positive. The district health officer called when I had reached Kyeizooba Sub County headquarters and told me that I tested positive for Covid and that I should be isolated. I did not have any sign of Covid, but at that time, I got traumatized. I immediately drove myself to the Mbarara regional referral hospital for isolation. Upon seeing the doctors who were waiting for me, I was engulfed in fear,’’ he shares.
Though he knew his results were positive, an anxious Basajjalaba requested that he takes a second test before being taken to the isolation room. His blood samples were tested and after some hours, the results were brought and this time round, they were negative.
The second test raised some kind of doubt in him. He started to wonder if his first test results had been manipulated for political reasons, but he chose to keep in isolation.
“I accepted to go for isolation since I was in safe hands of three competent doctors led by Dr. Celestine Barigye,’’ he narrates.
While in isolation, Basajjabalaba says he was advised by his doctors to take a third test and he complied because he knew all activities being carried out sought to save his life. The test turned out to be negative, but the doctors advised that he stay in isolation for 14 days.
He was treated with appropriate food and Covid19 medication up to the 13th day.
On the 13th day, the doctors advised that a fourth test be carried out. This test turned out to be positive. Basajjabalaba was kept in isolation for another seven days. After seven days, a fifth test was done and the results were negative. He was however asked to spend more days at the isolation centre.
“This time I was thankful to God and the doctors for saving my life through good care,’’ he says
Awful moments in the isolation centre
In the beginning, Basajjabalaba thought that his Covid positive results had been politically motivated to deny him a chance to get nominated. This bothered him so much and he felt so anxious. He would later be assured of his nomination and support ahead of elections.
“At first I thought it was meant to deny me a right of being nominated, but because the law allowed someone to represent me, I was nominated. At home, I was told that people were sympathising with me and this gave me positive energy. That assurance empowered me during that time and after until I emerged a winner,’’ he says.
While he was in isolation, Basajjabalaba would keep listening to the radio and watching television from where he got reports from different parts of the world on how people were being affected by the virus. This he says mounted significant fear, uncertainty and restlessness. One day, while there, he heard that the district speaker had also been brought into isolation at the same hospital.
“The arrival of my speaker treated me badly, but I came to terms with it. Then a certain lady who was badly off was also brought to the centre. This time fear ripped through me. Because of fear, my blood pressure went up to 220. I was almost collapsing, but God was on my side,’’ he recounts.
In the isolation centre, Basajjabalaba would talk on phone to his family members especially his wife and friends who provided emotional support. His family members back at home were also tested for Covid.
"Talking on the phone with my people gave me some hope. So, I stayed connected with them and this would come with some relief especially when my family members at home were tested and none of them was positive,’’ he says.
On a daily basis, Basajjabalaba would be treated to morning counselling sessions by his doctor, Dr Barigye, who realised that his patient was scared. The doctor also offered his patient a specialised counsellor.
"Dr Barigye got me a specialised counsellor who asked me not to panic, but rather accept and appreciate that Covid is real and I would overcome it. I would wake up in the morning, bathe, take breakfast, have an hour of physical exercises and sun-bathe on the balcony,’’ he recalls.
During his time in isolation, Basajjabalaba says he had his faith strengthened because of the Bible and Quran verses that he would download on his phone. Through reading and listening to God’s word, Basajjabalaba’s spiritual life got a boost.
“I imagined moving towards the grave, but the word of God gave me more spiritual support. So, all my prayer efforts aimed at my spiritual strength. I knew God was going to save my life,” he shares.
Basajjabalaba was eventually discharged seven days after the fifth test which had turned out negative and sent home to be with his family, but he deemed it necessary to stay away from them for their safety. Also, many people including family, friends and people at the district offices were scared of getting close to him due to the fact that he had been in isolation.
As the days passed, Basajjabalaba got well and mixed with members of the public.
Advice to the community
After his experience, Basajabalaba’s advice to people is to observe the standard operating procedures as directed by the President and the ministry of health because all guidelines are designed to save them and people around them.
“Take control measures seriously to save our lives. Leaders must make sure that the directives put in place by the government are fully enforced to protect people from getting Covid,” he emphasises.
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