LUSAKA resident Rebecca Mwale has narrated how terrifying it was to live in the same house with a COVID-19 patient when very little was known about the virus at the start of the pandemic.

Narrating her experience in an interview, Mwale who resides in Lusaka’s Kaunda Square, said upon hearing that her sister, who was 7 months pregnant at the time, had tested positive for COVID-19, the family panicked.

She said her sister was given her own plates and cups to use in order to prevent her from spreading the virus.

“Living with someone with COVID was very traumatising. My sister first had COVID when it was at its peak and she had it when she was pregnant. She went to the clinic like any normal day for her usual antenatal check-ups but she tested for COVID because she had minor symptoms which could not just go away. So she tested and the results came out positive. So she came back home and told us that she tested positive for COVID and was told to self-isolate. Now everyone was panicking, everyone was traumatised especially myself because we shared the same bedroom,” she said.

“So after finding out she tested positive, we started [doing] everything we could to prevent us from contracting the virus. We had stopped her from touching the plates, we gave her her own cup, and [her] own plates as some measures to prevent her from spreading the virus. At that time everyone was scared of COVID and so we were trying to do our very best to ensure that she does not spread it. I was sharing the bedroom with her and so I was the one who was the most afraid that I might have gotten it too because she had this flu for a very long time.”

Mwale, who was emotional when narrating the ordeal, said her sister used to have trouble breathing during the night, which instilled fear in her siblings that she might die.

“She was moved to another room and was prevented from coming in most parts of the house and would spend most of the time in the bedroom. The room that she went in was a room that belonged to the boys, meaning the boys had to shift from their room to [be] sleeping in the living room. On top of that, we all had to wear masks and minimise going to other rooms like where she moved to. Obviously, our lives in the house were not easy you know, but by the grace of God, we managed to survive. We faced a lot during this period such as stigma from the neighbours, rumours went around that ‘Rebecca’s sister has COVID don’t visit them’,” she narrated.

“But I do understand because lives were being lost rapidly at that time. So even like the kids had stopped coming to our house. My niece and nephew could not go to play with other kids because their parents would stop them from coming to play with them, which is understandable. It was not easy for her, neither was it easy for us because she needed our help and care at that time because she was seven months pregnant. She could not breathe, and sometimes at night, she would text me saying she felt her heart failing because she was not breathing for herself but the baby too. Honestly, it wasn’t easy. Sometimes we could wake up and think we are going to lose our sister and the baby as well.”

Mwale said her family made sure they followed what the doctor prescribed for her sister to ensure that she remained in good condition during that period.

“We followed all the remedies that we were told. She was pregnant and so she could not take the medicine that she was supposed to take but she was taking some vitamins that were prescribed to her by the doctor. And also other remedies like drinking warm water, lemon, ginger and garlic and avocados. Most importantly, we ensured that she stayed home and only went out when getting some sun because that is what the doctor advised that she should be getting some sun from time to time,” said Mwale.