SHUNNED LIKE THE PLAGUE

Survivor tells horror story of stigma after recovery

Agina reveals his children were not allowed to mingle with others.

In Summary

• Corona street, corona lane, corona estate - that's what people said.

• Stigmatised even after he and his children tested negative.

Salvador Agina, a Covid-19 survivo,r said it’s painful being labelled, stereotyped and discriminated against, because he's still perceived to be infectious. See story https://bit.ly/2zJPYi9

His children test negative but they are bullied and called corona kids.

His street is called a corona street, his estate a corona estate, his house a corona house.

Ignorant neighbours and former friends give Salvador Agina a wide berth after his discharge with a clean bill of health. They think Covid-19 is a death sentence and survivors are still infectious despite testing negative.

 

Many times they've been told they're wrong, but they don't want to listen. He is still treated as a pariah. You'd think he was a leper or had Ebola.

Agina shared his story with the Ministry of Health, which is campaigning for the acceptance of many survivors who are stigmatised. Most people survive and are healthy. 

It released a video of Agina sharing his ordeal. Even his county was not revealed, lest he and his family suffer more discrimination. We don't know his age or occupation but listen to a masked man tell his story.

"It’s painful being labelled, stereotyped, discriminated against," he said. "Surviving the coronavirus disease doesn't mean enduring a physical battle - that's just the beginning - but often a psychological and emotional one later."

Although he washed his hands, wore a mask and avoided crowds, he still contracted Covid-19. He was placed in isolation and treated. His case wasn't very serious.

The loneliness and boredom he experienced during isolation made him turn to social media, which was full of falsehoods and horror stories, he said.

He called some information on social media "scary and stressful" to him. It caused unnecessary panic among his family members.

 

Some patients under treatment vowed never to look at social media.

“Some patients had even stopped checking social media sites because they were giving us a lot of negative information that your sickness is getting worse," he said.

After he tested positive, his family was shunned. Now that he's healthy, they are still shunned.

It was so bad that his children, who tested negative, were not allowed to mingle with others and play with other children. That was before the advisory to stay indoors and observe social distancing whenever possible.

Agina pleaded with the public to heed government directives to prevent more infections.

“I was washing my hands and doing everything that the ministry had advised. Unfortunately, I was infected,” Agina said.

According to him, Kenyans typically ignore government directors, though they are meant to save lives.

The Covid-19 survivor has also said it is unfortunate some people classified some communities, homes and even roads as 'corona areas' once word went around of a positive case.

“People should not label a house as a corona house because I was hearing people saying that road has corona. We should avoid classifying estates, lanes and some communities as having corona,” Agina said.

On Wednesday, Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi urged the public to accept and warmly receive virus survivors' back home after treatment as they cannot spread the disease.

The Health Ministry said it will partner with patients who have recovered from Covid-19 to create awareness about the virus - and compassion.

Mwangangi said it was unfortunate that despite the constant appeal and massive education, people are still being stigmatised

They endure bullying and alienation.

Earlier this month, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe blasted Kenyans On Twitter for mocking the first two patients who recovered from Covid-19.

Brenda Ivy Cherotich and Brian Orinda were the first patients to recover, giving hope to the country that the disease can be managed.

After Brenda shared the story of her journey to recovery, Kenyans on Twitter trolled her and Brian, with some saying the government was using the two for public relations.

Ignorance and cruelty know no bounds.

(Edited by V. Graham)