After a survivor from Zimbabwe has defeated the corona virus, he lives with the stigma

HARARE, April 27 (Reuters). When Saul Sakudya arrived in an ambulance at a hospital in Zimbabwe’s capital after catching COVID-19, he said the medical staff would not come near because they were afraid of infection.

The 52-year-old businessman was one of the first people in Zimbabwe to test positive for the new corona virus after buying a trip to Dubai last month to buy supplies for his electronics store, and no protective clothing has yet been issued to hospital staff.

“The way they dispersed was like releasing 10 hungry lions from the ambulance. Imagine I’m just a human,” Sakudya told Reuters. “I thought I was going to die.”

After a three-hour wait in the ambulance, doctors took the father of four to an isolation ward at the infectious disease hospital on Beatrice Road, he said.

Prosper Chonzi, health director of the city of Harare, which runs the hospital, told Reuters that Sakudya had not yet implemented any protocols for dealing with coronavirus patients when it was admitted.

The national government is now renovating the hospital to treat such cases, Chonzi said.

Even in the best of times, the health system in Zimbabwe suffers from a lack of medication and basic equipment. The government has raised donations for protective clothing, but health workers at the forefront say supplies are still inadequate.

By Friday, the country had registered 31 cases of COVID-19 and four deaths.

Sakudya’s symptoms were relatively mild. When his wife and two adult sons tested positive for the virus in the hospital, he decided to return home, where the four could take care of each other.

Related Slideshow: Outbreak of Corona Virus (COVID-19) Around the World (provided by Photo Services)

Since then he has recovered and says that his family members are also doing well. But he fears that they will have to live with the stigma of the disease for some time.

Although he received the all-clear after two tests, friends and relatives will not visit or speak to him from afar, he said.

“Some people somehow think I still have some of the virus,” he said.

“I’ve heard someone call my street Corona Street and some people are now avoiding the street altogether. It hurts but I have to be mature and accept it.” (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Alexandra Zavis and Giles Elgood)

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