For Emmanuel Asika, one of the 179 survivors of COVID-19 discharged from various designated infectious hospitals across the country, it is not a case of stigmatisation against him but rather him shying away from people who are yet to be tested to know their coronavirus status.
Asika stated that it was wise for him to disassociate himself from people to avoid contacting the virus again. According to him, “I have tested negative, and I have been given a clean bill of health from the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH), Yaba, Lagos State. I cannot risk being re-infected. I have to keep away from people.”
Asika who spoke recently on Channels Television Sunrise Daily programme added: “When I got to my estate, I was even the one avoiding people, there was no form of stigmatisation against me. I also educated them on the need to join hands with the government to tackle the pandemic.”
Sharing his experience, Asika a professional IT expert went down memory lane on how he was diagnosed with the disease to his subsequent recovery. He narrated that his illness started when he noticed he had symptoms of malaria, associated with body aches and fever while working from home. After taking prescriptions for malaria, which persisted for over two days he self-admitted himself into a private hospital in Victoria Island.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was reached to take samples of Asika to determine his status if he had the disease or not. Despite having malaria, the doctors suggested that Asika be subjected to tests for COVID-19 and on March 23 the results came back positive.
“I moved from shock, denial, anxiety, questioning and eventually acceptance. I kept the information very close to just my nuclear family, not because I was afraid of stigma but because I knew people who would panic,” he said.
He was immediately taken to the Infectious Disease Centre at Mainland Hospital in Yaba, where he was admitted into the isolation ward set up at the hospital for COVID-19 patients where he spent 10 days. “My lowest point was not being able to eat for days I lost a great deal of weight. I knew that I was getting dehydrated and I couldn’t replace or replenish the fluids I was losing. I was throwing up everything I was eating,” he said.
Asika’s description of what he felt while he was recovering at the isolation ward was uncertainty as patients didn’t know what to expect because their condition could deteriorate without warning. “I was a constant name with the doctors because I was always conferring with them. We talked about having a dietician at some point to see what fluids I could take and eventually how they could stop nausea.
“There were bad days and there were good days but it is definitely not a normal flu. This is something serious we all know that it is life-threatening. Every single day you wake up, you are hoping that your condition does not deteriorate this played silently in everyone’s subconscious,” he said.
Asika had trouble with taking food until a dietician was deployed to address his dietary concerns by placing him on oats and custard until he was able to start taking noodles. After testing negative for the second time on April 1, Asika was elated when he received the good news from the doctors the next day that his results showed his third negative result in 10 days.
After being observed, he was immediately discharged from the isolation ward explaining that since he got discharged he had not been stigmatised since he returned home.
“At a recent meeting in the estate where I live, to discuss security amidst the currently escalating violence in the state, I mentioned openly that I just recovered from COVID-19 and encouraged everyone to take the disease seriously, to understand that transmission is very easy and to follow safety protocols. I didn’t notice any stigmatisation,” he said. (Text and photo courtesy Guardian)