By Robby Muhumuza
“Do you know anyone.. who knows someone with Corona?”
The above refrain trending on social media a few months ago sounded funny and my family members and I laughed at it.
That laugh has now dried off my lips. I know scores of people who have been infected by COVID-19. I have a list of those who recently died of COVID-19. Others are on ventilators in critical condition.
My wife and I recently became part of the COVID-19 statistics when both of us tested positive.
We didn’t have any of the classic symptoms. Our temperature was normal. No cough, no headache but some slight sore throat.
We were prompted to test because we had been in close contact with people who had previously tested positive.
There are many places for testing in Kampala and the charges range from UGX 200,000 to 350,000 depending on where you go .
We opted for Makerere University Hospital where we were charged UGX 200,000 and got our results the following day.
As soon as the medical officer at Makerere University Hospital saw “Positive“ on our results slips, she adjusted her mask more firmly on her face and told us to keep a minimum of 2 meters from her.
“Mulago Hospital is full. Entebbe Grade B is also full . The only place we can have you admitted for 14 days is at the temporary medical facility recently set up at Namboole Stadium” she said .
“What are the facilities available at Namboole?” I asked .
“Not much really”, she confessed.
“We mostly have medical staff who will monitor you regularly and give you treatment if you need it. You will not be allowed any visitors. Your family can bring you stuff but they will have to leave it at the gate”, she added .
“But if you have a place where you can self isolate, here is a prescription. Go buy the drugs from a pharmacy and take another test after 10 days”, she said .
The prescription consisted of:
Azithromycin 500 mg ( 1 tablet per day for 6 days )
Zinc 20 mg ( 1 tablet per day for 5 days )
Vit. C 500 mg ( 1 tablet twice a day for 5 days ).
When I checked with a senior doctor friend of mine , he gave a similar prescription and then added the following:
“ Don’t be scared . Take a balanced diet . Have enough sleep . Do exercises every day. Drink plenty of water . Sit in the morning sun 15-20 minutes per day .”
After buying the prescriptions my wife and I went into isolation for the next 10 days.
As we shared our condition with friends via WhatsApp and phone calls, we received more advice on how to reinforce our immunity.
We were encouraged to take lots of green tea boiled with fresh pounded garlic, ginger, lemon or lime and some honey added.
We shared with our pastor and some friends for prayers .
Concerned that we could have infected some of our closest contacts, we sent our children, grandchildren, driver and workers at our home for COVID-19 tests. Thanks be to God, they all tested negative.
Full fledged COVID-19 usually attacks and weakens the lungs . That’s why critically ill COVID-19 patients with breathing difficulties need ventilators (now in short supply in Ugandan hospitals). It’s therefore necessary to monitor the oxygen intake in the blood of COVID-19 patients so that medical personnel can provide the necessary intervention in time.
We were advised to buy a battery-operated hand-held oximeter for measuring the pulse and amount of oxygen in the blood . We sent for one from First Pharmacy at UGX 95,000.
My wife and I have followed the recommended regimen religiously to the dot. Thanks be to a God that we have not developed any symptoms of COVID-19.
We eagerly counted each day looking forward to the 10th day to carry out another COVID-19 test .
Day 10 came and the swab was taken from our nostrils. I have taken many tests and exams in my life. Waiting for results of a COVID-19 test is one of the most nerve-wrecking waiting times.
The following day, the email from the Ministry of Health Uganda Virus Research Institute Lab Manager came on my phone. My fingers were sweating as I frantically opened the email. “NEGATIVE” was stamped in Green on the result slip of both my wife and I. We shouted in excitement and hugged each other. It was as if a death sentence had been lifted from our necks.
COVID-19 is real. We are at the stage where there are many infected people in the community busy transmitting it. Be careful. Avoid mingling in crowds.
Go out only if you must. When you are with others who are not your family members, wear a mask, keep a social distance of around 2 meters apart, and wash your hands frequently with water and soap .
If you feel symptoms of COVID-19 or one of the people you have been in close contact tests positive, go for a COVID-19 test.
If you test positive, that’s not a death sentence. Follow the treatment regimen . You will thank me later.