NIGERIA. Umuahia. Lynda Chukwu is a physiotherapist at the Federal Medical Center, Umuahia in Imo State, Nigeria. Chukwu spoke to Transcontinental Times after recovering from COVID-19, stressing a need for her medical colleagues to maintain a high level of precaution because they are at high-risk for contracting COVID-19.
Giving advice to fellow medical workers, Chukwu said, “To all health workers, you are mostly at risk because of your job, so continue to maintain a high level of suspicion for everyone, fellow colleagues inclusive. For every other person, COVID-19 is very real and with us here in Nigeria. Please observe the safety protocols. It is for your good, and that of your loved ones”.
COVID-19 survivor. Chukwu is one of the few COVID-19 survivors in Nigeria who has openly declared to have been infected with the virus and cured of the virus. As of 13 July 2020, there were 33,153 confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded in Nigeria. Of those admitted to hospitals, 13,671 COVID-19 patients had been discharged, while 744 were killed by the virus or complications thereof.
Appeal to government. Chukwu said that healthcare workers are mostly at risk of contracting COVID-19 because there is a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers across the country.
She called on the Nigerian government to take action to provide PPE saying, “Something urgently has to be done about health workers. If our defence is weak, our chances of winning this war are dismal”.
COVID-19 experience. Speaking about her own COVID-19 experience, Chukwu said that she had an unusual headache and could not perceive things properly. She said she did not consider her symptoms to be anything serious until someone she had come in contact with tested positive for COVID-19.
Chukwu stated that she took all preventive measures, but eventually, the virus caught up with her. She said she was confused and disoriented when she was informed she tested positive for the virus.
Isolation period. The COVID-19 survivor said that for the entirety of her isolation period she was asymptomatic, as the symptoms she experienced came before she was tested for the virus. She described COVID-19 isolation as boring and quiet.
“I opted for self-isolation since I lived alone, but I had to call the state office of the NCDC every day to report my state, give my vital signs, and take my medications as well. Thankfully, as I have earlier mentioned, I was mostly asymptomatic throughout the period but at some point, I was afraid of suddenly breaking down or developing something called ‘silent hypoxia,’ especially at night. Then it was also mostly boring and quiet given that I had nothing much to do and nowhere to go to. Power supply was not great and so buried myself in books. I completed three books within the period. In general, it went well. I got a lot of supports from family, friends, and my colleagues”, Chukwu said.
Call to other survivors. Chukwu urged other COVID-19 survivors to publicly share their testimonies and stories. “There are people saying the virus is not real because they do not know anyone who has it, and so maybe it’s time to have survivors share their testimonies publicly. I strongly believe prevention is still our best bet considering the nature of our healthcare system in Nigeria”.
Chukwu is ecstatic and relieved that she recovered from COVID-19, saying that life is finally going back to normal for her.