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Coronavirus – Malawi: Pregnant and recovering from COVID-19

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A mother’s experience

LILONGWE, Malawi, August 6, 2020/ — Nadu Morgan can now smile as she has recovered from COVID-19.

Relating her experience from her home in Nkhoma, she says at first she felt pain in her legs and thought this was due to her pregnancy and dismissed it. At the time of the infection, she was in the fourth month of her pregnancy.

However, as the pain progressed over several days, and she developed other symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath and fever, she realised it was more than just pregnancy symptoms. This was when she decided to go to the local outreach health centre for assistance.

When she arrived at the centre, they quickly noticed that things were not right, especially after screening her temperature, which was very high. The very next day, she was taken to the Nkhoma Hospital and was placed in the isolation unit where a sample was taken for COVID-19 testing.

“I was concerned when the doctors were taking the samples as I did not know what to expect. Arrangements were made, and I was transported to Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, where I received medical attention. There they swabbed me and confirmed that I indeed had COVID-19.”

She adds, “While I was in the hospital, my 12-year-old son was the one who prepared my meals. I was discharged and allowed to return home after about a week. At home, unfortunately, I infected my three young children aged 12, 10 and 5. They also needed medical assistance and were taken to the hospital, and fortunately, they recovered.”

Nadu says that during this time, she was very apprehensive about the recovery of her children. She adds that the environmental health officers from the hospital came to the house to sanitise and spray her house and the surrounding areas. They also conducted tracing of the people she had been in contact with.

She says that the community was suspicious and hostile with the hospital staff as they had not received enough information concerning the disease.

“When they came (the health workers), some people threw stones at them,” she said pointing to a pile of stones which the community has been collecting for the building of an extension of the health centre.

Nadu also notes that it was a challenge to wash her hands before as advised by the government as they do not have easy access to water. Further to this, she is a single mother who does not work but relies on the goodwill of the community for livelihood.

When she was discharged, various organisations contributed items such as buckets, soap, soya, sugar and kapenta to help her and family recover. This has gone a long way to ease the challenge of washing their hands.

Nadu says, “Water is still a challenge in my community. I try to stay safe by sitting in the sun every day for vitamin D. Without the intervention of the health workers, I doubt I would have gotten better. I wouldn’t even know that I was suffering from COVID-19; therefore, it’s the health workers who deserve the praise.”

She adds, “This experience has also taught me the value of going for antenatal check-ups, and I will ensure when it’s time to give birth to ask for help from medical personnel. I am now taking my antenatal visits seriously since they are the ones who will be first to alert me if something is wrong with the baby and me.”

Moreover, she adds that her swift recovery has changed the mindset of most of the people in her community, and they no longer view them with suspicion.

 – By Penelope Kakhobwe

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