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Healthcare worker speaks of experience after viral infection

Monday July 06 2020
AUSTIN ODUOR

Mr Austine Oduor, a clinician in Migori County who recovered from Covid-19. PHOTO | POOL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By IAN BYRON

On May 24, Austin Oduor, a 33-year-old clinician in Migori County developed high fever that was synonymous with malaria.

Little did he know that he had contracted the novel coronavirus and proceeded to take anti-malaria pills and four days later, he was up and running.

But the following day, he developed strange symptoms. He was shivering with a complete run down, his entire body had a burning sensation and he also lost his sense of smell.

According to Mr Oduor, who spoke exclusively to the Nation, he had attended to several patients who had crossed over from Tanzania after the government closed the border but never suspected they were infected with Covid-19.

QUARANTINE

Most Tanzanians who illegally cross to Kenya are routinely taken into mandatory quarantine before they are handed back to their country.

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“I’ve been interacting with most of them as we’re tasked with routine check-up and review for Covid-19. In all the instances, we are always in protective gear,” he says.

But what shocked the clinician was the lack of taste and smell, a symptom common with malaria.

Then came excruciating pain around his joints as the neck stiffened.

“I underwent a confirmatory malaria test and even took some pain killers that day. The test, however, turned negative,” he adds.

Mr Oduor became unsettled when one of the Tanzanians he met at the quarantine centre tested positive for Covid-19 and immediately took the test for the disease that has so far claimed more than 500,000 lives globally.

TURNED POSITIVE

“On June 4, my test results turned positive and I was immediately whisked away to Macalder treatment centre in Nyatike Sub-county, some 60km from my work place,” he recalls.

The entire facility was shut down and mandatory test recommend for all staff.

He spent three weeks in isolation together with other seven medics and a laboratory technician, who were all asymptomatic.

The clinician, however, says his stay in isolation exposed “a worrying situation of the facility” that the health department should step in and address.

According to Oduor, the isolation centre has two sections, a common tent for new positive cases and wards for patients who have recovered.

“New cases are not mixed with other patients but are secluded in tents as their situation is monitored. It’s after two weeks that they are transferred to other wards to create room for other patients,” he said.

Infected frontline heath care providers have separate isolation cubicles from where they are closely monitored.

Oduor says there is need to improve the living conditions in the isolation centres including entertainment but noted that nutrition was good

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