By Mary Mundeya
ON 19 July 2021, a Parliament of Zimbabwe public relations officer announced in a WhatsApp group that every journalist interested in covering parliamentary proceedings must undergo a Covid-19 test and present a medical certificate showing the results.
With confidence, I submitted my name because I wanted to cover the Senate the following day, a Tuesday.
That Tuesday morning, I rushed into central Harare because I wanted to be tested at the Parliament of Zimbabwe carpark where an outreach Covid-19 vaccination and testing programme was being done.
I tested positive and was in real shock.
For a moment, I was certain that I was having a terrible dream. This could not be real, I thought to myself.
How was it possible that someone without any symptoms could test positive for Covid-19? Besides, inasmuch as I am a frontline worker, I had actually gained a reputation for being very careful when it came to adhering to Covid-19 preventative measures.
In fact, I was so observant of Covid-19 prevention protocols that my colleagues had found befitting nicknames for me. Some colleagues had given me the name Miss Sanitiser while others called me “vema mask” (the one who does not take her face mask off). So where had I gone wrong?
I also did not recall having been exposed to anyone who had tested positive for Covid-19, so where had I contracted the disease from?
In my quest to figure out what had happened, I found myself crying uncontrollably for some time until I managed to gather the courage to call close family and friends to break the news. Like me, most were left in shock.
But this was reality.
The pain of passing through Africa Unity Square and seeing a huge number of people not wearing their masks properly really got to me, as I went back home.
I could not help but wonder how many awareness campaigns we needed for people to understand that we are at war with Covid-19. The numbers, both cumulative infections and the death toll, are there to prove it is a war.
My journey back home was that of a defeated individual who was waiting to die. I went to the extent of buying myself my favourite meal. In my opinion, having a feast before I kicked the bucket would not be a bad idea.
I could not help but wonder what life was going to be for my family after my death. I then wrote my final wishes and sent them to a friend of mine who was going to share them at my funeral.
I then decided to make my Covid-19 status public, and the results shocked me, to say the least. The love and support I got from a lot of people was amazing.
Some Covid-19 survivors got in touch and shared their experiences. It was only then that I realised that Covid-19 was not a death sentence.
I was also fortunate to have a guardian who is an Econet Wireless employee who is part of the Econet Wellness Club.
My guardian’s assistance and experience was invaluable.
During the days that followed, I was optimistic I would recover.
But on some days when the Covid-19 symptoms were at a peak, my confidence would hit rock bottom. I would have panic attacks, unable to eat on some days. In such a situation, I would wonder whether I was soon going to be part of the Covid-19 fatality statistics.
As much as I had a lot of people who would check on me on a daily basis, it was difficult to comprehend the amount of information I was receiving on what home remedies I was supposed to be using to complement the vitamin and zinc pills. Sometimes I would receive forwarded messages detailing how bad things were around the world due to Covid-19, which added salt to the wound.
After a week had passed, my temperature began increasing and decreasing drastically such that I would sweat like no man’s business. Thereafter, I would freeze as if I had been dumped in a deep freezer. My chest would become heavy and start aching.
The pain would disappear, for some time, if I steamed.
The confusing part of it all was that I would really be ill today and maybe for the following day or two be perfectly fine, only for the pain to resurface from nowhere whenever it felt like it. I am certain that for a moment the people who would constantly check on me on a number of intervals thought that I had lost my mind due to the everchanging accounts that I was giving them, on my battle with the coronavirus.
Several days before my two-week quarantine was over, I started experiencing more vivid Covid-19 symptoms like a sore throat, coughing and sneezing.
I could not help but worry that my Covid-19 re-test was going to turn out positive.
As a freelance journalist who does not have a basic monthly salary, being unable to work for two weeks was already bad enough. Another period in quarantine was surely going to be disastrous.
I fought on, and on Monday, I tested negative for Covid-19.
I had won my fight and could finally go to work and get vaccinated too.
Being a Covid-19 survivor has taught me that no Covid-19 preventative measure is more important than the other; the least we can do is combine all the available options and increase our chances of not getting infected with the virus because things are changing.
New variants are emerging, so must get vaccinated, wear our masks and practice good hygiene. We can never be too sure, just because the next person is not showing any symptoms does not mean they are Covid-19 free.
Let us all fight this pandemic.
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