When my boss first told me that we would visit a Covid-19 isolation ward, the thoughts in my head started doing backflips trying to convince me how this might just be a suicide mission.
I tend to take extra measures when it comes to everything and I have always lived by the mantra that no story is worth dying for. So I kept wondering why should I take a chance, especially with a disease that has no cure.
It took me a while before I could say yes, but when I did, I was sure there was no turning back.
On Friday morning, I put on some raggedy clothes and shoes that I would not mind burning should the need arise. As I kissed my daughter goodbye, I said a little prayer. “Dear Lord, please protect me, if not for my sake, then for the sake of this child,” I said.
By the time I got to the office, my anxiety had disappeared and it had been replaced by the newsroom rush. There is no way of explaining it but the newsroom gives you a mad rush to deliver a story and a tunnel vision that blurs every other thought that may be weighing you down.
The Health ministry had granted us access to the Kenyatta National Hospital Infectious Diseases Unit and the hospital’s satellite Infectious Diseases Unit at Mbagathi hospital.
We thought things would be quick but like with everything in government, it took long. We waited for more than an hour to access each unit.
When we finally got inside, interviews started almost immediately – the staff giving us a breakdown of what goes on at the facilities and what to expect.
I must say that the staff at KNH wards were very friendly and I completely understand why Brenda Cherotich, a Covid-19 survivor, kept talking about them in her interviews.
At Mbagathi, staff led by Dr Mutua Mbuvi, who gave us a tour of wards there, made sure we were well-prepared and well-kitted.
Speaking of Cherotich, we got to see her ward, right next to that of Brian Orinda, another Covid-19 survivor. Cherotich's was now occupied by a female who did not wish to speak to us out of fear of stigma.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I took from this facility was just how much we take for granted out here and how little we think of the virus given the length the healthcare workers take to protect themselves and the people around them.
The process of putting on a hazmat suit took close to 15 minutes, with extreme care. I had to put on a mask in a certain way. I wore gloves, and goggles in a way that would prevent fogging.