Covid-19 survivor's advice
Pretoria - An educational psychologist who has recovered from Covid-19 along with her husband and four children has warned people that the virus is a reality and they should not regard it lightly
But it is not all doom and gloom, she said, and emphasised that people must not feel stigmatised.
If they were to test positive, they should stay calm and take a few moments to process the information before phoning anyone.
Erika Basson said one of the main challenges was to break the stigma behind testing positive for the virus.
“There is some stigmatisation around Covid-19. Some of these are ‘you were not careful, or you broke the rules’. This makes you feel like a criminal; the fact that you need to contact people you had direct contact with makes it even worse.
“Then you need to isolate yourself, which goes against our human nature and makes you feel even worse emotionally while you are physically not feeling good.”
Basson said it was important to break the stigma. “Everyone wants to know how you got it, as if they want to know what you did wrong. The reality is that this is a virus that spreads and it is really spreading fast.”
She said people should realise that there is nothing to be ashamed of when you test positive.
“I have read so many things about Covid-19 the emotional impact of isolation on our children, and the financial impact of this pandemic worldwide. A lot has been said and written about how to prevent getting it, about how to support our children returning to schools and about this 'new normal’. What I was not prepared for was what to do if you test positive.
“I am a mother of beautiful boys aged between 16 months and 6 years. My mother tested positive for Covid-19 a week ago. When she told us about her test results, I was shocked because she is obviously older and more at risk.
“My children and I were in contact with her a few days before that, so I was also scared for my own family. I work at a school, so I decided that I need to get tested.”
Basson said that at the time of going for the test she had no symptoms. “But that evening I started feeling sick.
"My doctor phoned the following morning with the news that I had tested positive and that I needed to isolate for 14 days.
“Anxiety started as I knew I must now make numerous calls to everyone I was in close contact with. I was scared and anxious that my kids and my husband were also going to get sick.”
She felt like a criminal and it was horrible to phone everyone and answer 10 000 questions without having time to pause and process the news first.
“This was my biggest mistake in handling the news. First pause and take a moment for yourself to process and then you can react,” Basson said.
“My children and my husband also started with symptoms and I had to deal with them not feeling well. The worst part of it all was that no one could come and help us. It was a logistical nightmare we couldn’t go to the shops and get food or medicine.
“We were vulnerable and scared not knowing what we should do next. I got very sick and felt horrible. Luckily the kids and my husband had light symptoms and recovered within a few days.”
Basson's advice is to stock up on vitamins, eat healthily and ensure your immune system is healthy to fight the virus. “The reality is most of us will get it and hopefully recover.”
She advised people to prepare mentally for possible Covid-19 infection. “We need to be prepared for when and if you do get sick.”
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** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za