Survivors share experiences to fight COVID-19 stigma in Namibia.
WINDHOEK, Feb. 23-- Many Namibians who contracted COVID-19 share experiences to raise awareness about the virus and fight stigma amid spiraling cases in the country. Namibia has so far recorded 37,483 confirmed cases with 402 deaths and 35,090 recoveries. Accordingly, the testimonies on the COVID-19 encounters, narrated on social media and public platforms, aid the government's efforts in containing the spread of COVID-19. The country also faces the challenge of non-adherence to COVID-19 protocols. Some locals are still ignoring COVID-19 safety measures such as curfew, social distancing and wearing of masks, said Esther Muinjangue, deputy Minister of Health and Social Services. "I decided to publically share my encounter with others as a precaution and help someone who has lost hope," said Margaret Kalo, who works in the public sector in Windhoek, the national capital. Kalo mistook COVID-19 symptoms with seasonal allergy and took regular medication. When the symptoms got worse, she went for a COVID-19 test, and the results were positive. "I do not know how I contracted it. I sanitised regularly, cleaned surfaces and kept a safe distance yet still contracted the disease. Therefore, my message to people is to take extra precautions and pay attention because you never know when it will happen to you," she said on Monday. Isolating at home, she steamed continuously, took Vitamin C and still took extra precaution. According to Kalo, who recently featured at the government information center, she publicly narrated her recovery story to demonstrate recovery evidence. "To show the real faces behind recoveries and give hope to those in despair. Further to share tips on how to manage the disease if isolated from home," she added. She is not the only one. Norah Appolus works in the broadcasting and media industry in Namibia. Upon testing positive for COVID-19, she was hospitalized for about 20 days. According to Appolus, being hospitalized for many days sparked panic and fear because she had underlying conditions. "Sharing my recovery journey is reassuring the effectiveness because the doctors were a great help," she said. Appolus hopes that her story would drive change, social transformation and debunk myths that spur stigma about COVID-19 patients and general social conduct in public and private spaces across the country. Yvonne Dausab, Minister of Justice in Namibia, is also one of the public figures who have openly spoken about her COVID-19 status and recovery on social media platforms such as Twitter. Meanwhile, Cryster Hansen, a social worker at the Ministry of Health and Social Services, said that fear, panic, stigma and discrimination are some of the challenges the country faces in the fight against COVID-19. "Most people panic and are traumatised when they test positive for COVID-19 and require psychological and social support. Some also think that contracting COVID-19 is synonymous with death," Hansen said. In the interim, the health ministry provides counselling to help the survivor to identify the level of panic. "In most cases, people who test positive do not know how to approach it. The team thus educates the people on COVID-19, management and safety measures. We offer support by listening to their fears and anxiety," she added. The team also reaches out to their families to ensure support for the patient. Xinhua