The South African Federation of Trade Unions’ general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi File photo: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA)
The South African Federation of Trade Unions’ general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi File photo: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA)

Survivors of Covid-19 Zwelinzima Vavi, Madiba's grandson, yoga teacher share their stories

By Kenneth Mokgatlhe Time of article published May 17, 2020

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Johannesburg – While the number of those who have succumbed to Covid-19 in South Africa has surpassed the 200 mark, the level of recoveries has been lauded.

Out of the 13 524 people who tested positive, as of yesterday, 6 083, had recovered.

Survivors expressed great joy and relief after escaping the clutches of this deadly disease.

The South African Federation of Trade Unions’ general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, took to social media to thank those who supported him and his family while he was wrestling Covid-19. 

Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela, also made use of social media to announce he had been healed of Covid-19. Mandela said he owed his recovery to leading a clean lifestyle, eating healthily, not smoking and not drinking alcohol, and also taking traditional herbal remedies.

Joburg-based yoga teacher Sharon Salomon, 39, said she and her husband were shocked when their results came back positive in late March after experiencing mild symptoms that included a dry cough and exhaustion.

“I had expected a negative result. However, by the time my husband and I received our results, we were feeling worse. The dry cough, flu and fever had intensified,” she said.

The couple spent three weeks isolating themselves in different rooms at their home. During isolation, Salomon said she spent most of her time doing yoga and other exercises to keep fit and also ate healthier food.

“Vitamins C and D helped me to recover. I avoided processed food like polony because it demands a lot of energy from the body to be digested. I ate a lot of fruits because I did not have the energy to cook.””

She said she had not travelled recently and had not had any flu shots because she relied on a healthy lifestyle that included regular exercises.

Before her diagnosis, Salomon

said she regularly visited her ailing mother at an old age home. When she tested positive, her mother and residents of the retirement home were tested and, fortunately, all their results were negative.

“One day while crying from missing my mom, I felt my chest burn from pain and that was an indication that my mental state needed to be healthy to help me with my overall recovery,” she said.

She further advised people who test positive for Covid-19 to meditate as a way to overcome the mental struggles associated with the disease.

While in self-isolation, Salomon said she received regular phone calls from the Department of Health to monitor how she was doing.

On April 14, she and her husband were retested and their results came back negative.

Joburg resident Gary Sweidan, 43, said he suspects that he came into contact with the virus from a trip to New York, US, early in March.

The father of two said his symptoms of a sore throat, exhaustion and fever led him to test for Covid-19 and the results came back positive. Fortunately, his wife and their children were not infected.

“I felt very exhausted at first and found myself sleeping more than normal.

“Then I felt extreme dryness in my throat and that is when I realised that something was wrong. All this happened at a time when the disease was still new to us, and that scared me a lot,” said Sweidan.

During his four weeks’ quarantine, Sweidan said his children, aged 9 and 12, understood why they could not touch, hug or kiss him.

“My wife and kids were well informed about the disease and the importance of being separated from them. Fortunately, our house is made of mostly glass and I was able to talk to my wife and see her from the other side,” Sweidan added.

While in isolation, he reached out to his network to educate those curious to learn more about Covid-19.

“I got over the fear and had to fight the disease head-on through a lot of positive thinking. People were curious and wanted to know how I was feeling while in quarantine and one of the most popular questions was about the symptoms, what those were and how could one notice them sooner,” Sweidan said.

Like Salomon, Sweidan said he had always maintained a healthy lifestyle and had never been vaccinated for flu.

His second test was in mid-April and the results were negative, clearing him of the disease, which came as great a relief to him and his family.

The Sunday Independent

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