Dr Julienne Buggie, a Senior Medical Officer at the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital and a survivor of COVID-19 has advised the public to desist from stigmatising individuals who have suffered the disease or are suffering from the disease.
“I will urge the public to stop the stigmatisation of persons who have suffered or are suffering from COVID-19 for history will judge us by the way we treat them. It is important to practice social distancing, yes, but not social isolation.
“People should remember that stigma divides us and turns us against one another. We must remember that it is the virus that is the enemy and not people with COVID-19,” she added.
Dr Buggie gave the advice on Thursday at the ‘Minister’s Briefing’ event organised to update the media and the public on the state of COVID-19 in Ghana and interventions by government to manage the situation in the country.
Sharing how she contracted the disease, she said she came into contact with a suspected COVID-19 patient on March 29, 2020 and started showing signs on March 31.
The symptoms included severe bodily pains, fever, and chills and subsequently increased to include dry cough, headaches, diarrhea and loss of sense of smell.
She said on April 3, 2020, the sample of the suspected patient was taken which proved positive.
She said on April 5, all individuals who came into contact with the patient including herself had their samples taken and tested.
Dr Buggie said on April 10, she furthermore started having difficulty in breathing and swallowing.
“All these while, I took in a lot of warm tea, vitamin c, practiced steam inhalation, and took in a lot of fluids. Then my results came in negative even though I was showing all the signs of COVID-19. Later, I developed shortness of breath and had to be given oxygen.
“So I was retested, airlifted to Korle-Bu for further management. I was given IV fluids all these while and was put on a cardiac monitor. After five days, the result came in and I tested positive for COVID-19,” she said.
The Senior Medical Officer said she suggested that her sister’s sample be taken as she was with her in the same home, though they were practicing social distancing, however, her sister’s result came in negative.
She disclosed that after spending eight days in Medical Intensive Care Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, she was moved to a ward.
She said on her part, she had a lot of psychological support from family, experts, colleagues, and other patients she had taken care of, which she said played a vital role in her recovery.
She said she was discharged on May 2, 2020, and was well received at home by her family.
However, she explained, that she had not received any form of stigmatisation, apparently because she had been indoors and not returned to work yet since she was discharged.
Dr Buggie said: “The COVID-19 is certainly scary by the constant reportage on the total number of cases and the death toll, but the reality is that most patients that get COVID-19 do recover. So as the number of cases increases, so is the number that survives.
“Contracting it does not mean one would have it for the rest of his or her life or is a death sentence. Let us all share the reality of the disease to family and friends and desist from the habit of stigmatizing COVID-19 patients, and rather listen to them, help and support them,” she advised.
She also entreated all and sundry to support healthcare workers and anyone involved in the care of COVID-19 patients, and share positive information about the condition of the respiratory disease in the country on social media to ease the tension it creates.