I woke up before the others. Before the birds, before the sun. I woke up to post some tiny squiggles I call sentences on this blog. Out of habit, I checked the trend of Covid-19 in different parts of the world. I look out for new information. This virus is as dynamic as it is complicated. I must stay updated.
I then happened upon one of the public speakers in Nairobi. He shared his story on contracting Covid-19 and being admitted at a well-to-do private hospital in the city. What appalled me was the lackluster approach my countrymen adopted. My stomach knotted in several different spots.
I have battled what they call a mild form of Covid-19 yet there is nothing mild in it. Weeks after recovery, the journey has been a roller coaster of symptoms. It starts or ends with an episodic continuous cough. A cough so wheezy and hacking that you’d be forgiven to think I’ll drop down dead the next minute. I will say nothing about the muscle aches and absolutely unexplainable bouts of sadness.
[Read about Richard Quest’s experience on https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/07/health/richard-quest-covid-wellness-intl/index.html%5D
The good public speaker who we will call RB (I am so good at keeping things anonymous haha) wore a baseball cap and had oxygen being delivered through his nostrils as he went live on Facebook.
My people, being the ever light hearted fellows diagnosed him as a sympathy and attention seeker. It squeezed the remaining drops of life in me. Living and getting used to such low standards of public health care has blinded most netizens from the fact that oxygen administration isn’t a life and death situation.
That oxygen therapy is available even in some people’s houses. That oxygen cylinders are available for people to walk around with if they require long term administration of oxygen due to various medical conditions.
Interestingly, when Covid-19 hit New York city, a Kenyan in the US posted a video of herself using the same oxygen cannulae in a hospital. She was vocal in letting everyone see the seriousness of the illness. She received no bashing. When RB speaks about the same, he has become the bad guy.
Fact is that the cases of Covid-19 are on a sure and steady rise in Kenya. Nairobi especially is hanging on the precipice of tipping over. The curve of infection is on a sure way up. More than fighting the virus, my colleagues on the frontline will have to battle pure unadulterated ignorance from online personas.
These are people who have swallowed the narrative that Covid-19 is just a flu line hook and sinker. A tangled web of faulty beliefs, selfish impulses and desperation. Irresponsible and irredeemable. These are people whose sense of responsibility is as common as rain in the Sahara.
Pretending Covid-19 is just a bad flu will not make it one. That is a bias we are adopting to protect our fragile egos. A special kind of delusion. I am scared that now that the lockdown restrictions have been eased, most Kenyans will resort to factory settings. No social distancing, no hand washing and definitely no masks. And if they do wear them, they will be relegated to being chin guards and dangling ear pieces.
When you receive such hatred online after admitting that you have contracted Covid-19, how will other people manage to speak out? We must be woke that Covid-19 is here with us and is at local transmission. We will protect ourselves and those we love by being bold enough to go for tests and making them know that we are going to be self isolating due to the viral infection.
Contact tracing and tracking has been documented as being an effective mode of handling Covid-19. Consistently doing so will save us from potential annihilation as a country. When we discover cases early, we are able to isolate and treat them early when they are still contagious.
See friends, it is not your fault that you contracted Covid-19. It is nobody’s fault. Even the best laid plans go haywire. The least we can do besides protecting ourselves is supporting those that contract it.
Covid-19 is not HIV where you hide your status even from your family. We are at a very critical point in Kenya and many will get infected. If we receive them with the hostility we have directed at RB , then they will not reveal that they have been infected. These people may be your colleagues or even employees or a domestic manager. They will not tell you because nobody enjoys having their dignity stripped off them.
My appeal to the ministry of health in Kenya is to demystify contracting Covid-19. It is scary enough to gerrit but it is even worse to keep silent about it. When we lie about it or keep quiet, we waste precious time that may have been used to track and trace contacts for effective isolation and early initiation of supportive treatment.
There is power in speaking out. It gives courage to others in similar situations to know that they are not alone. However when those that speak out are pelted with keyboard stones, nobody speaks up, everyone gets infected and soon we start mourning our loved ones. Please desist from trashing people’s stories. It is an inspiration from hell and you are the Devil’s right hand person.
The lack of knowledge coupled with blatant flounting of rules from most government officials have made it look like one big joke. Like we can create memes and move on. If anyone speaks about their interaction with Covid-19 then they are seeking attention.
How twisted your brain must be if your way of getting attention is claiming to be suffering from a novel virus? I do not know who will make us realise that we are courting danger. Flirting with mortal disaster.
Do not be mistaken by the phrase mild Covid-19 infection. There is nothing mild in the after effects. There is nothing mild in the utter fatigue and mental ditches that one suffers after the fact.
Further, it is crystal now that the viral DNA remnants remain in the body for as long as 8 weeks (or more) in some people. These are not infectious and have served their time. However, who is to tell what damage those remnants could be doing in the body before they finally get eradicated? Research is still ongoing and believe me it is not fast enough.
Personal responsibility means that we are on our own. The government has done so much and now, in spectacular Obama style, they have dropped the microphone. We have reopened the country for the sake of the lost livelihoods, not because it is safe to do so.
Social media is informational. Part of that set of information is that oxygen delivery is not tantamount to intensive care admission. Is it about time Kenyans volunteered in hospitals and learnt a few things on the same? Perhaps then they will understand healthcare and own it.
We are used to seeing oxygen be given to people gasping for air. We never thought it can be administered while someone is able to talk and still eat and interact with their environment. And what is wrong with the baseball cap? Should RB have smeared ash on his face and worn a sack cloth for us to believe he is in the hospital battling Covid-19?
Fellow Kenyans, there is nothing as beautiful as our creative streak but sometimes we take the joke too far. This is why many people on your News Feed will never come out to say they contracted Covid-19. Because you will call them a few names before dismissing them.
I am struggling to understand post Covid-19 syndrome. I have been looking for people who have healed from Covid-19 for us to compare notes on life after Covid-19. Your judgemental behaviour is prohibiting them from speaking out.
To RB, there is a time you classified friends and said some should never be invited to the kitchen. It is time to classify Kenyans on social media. We die while laughing. We bash everyone and everything. May this episode of our malice not dampen your spirits. From a girl that recovered and is still recovering, get well soon.
PS : To anyone of African descent reading this and has healed from mild to moderate Covid-19. Please write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me about life after Covid-19. Listen to your body. Let us compare notes.