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The ‘ruse’ of the elusive virus: Covid-19 survivor shares his story

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A young Dakar resident, one of the 782 patients who escaped Covid-19 in Senegal, tells his story about grappling with the virus.

On a global scale, the aftershocks of the earthquake caused by the new coronavirus are increasingly intense. In Senegal, positive cases are spreading and twenty-one patients have already succumbed to the virus in hospitals which fear saturation.

Matar (assumed name) was luckier: “I spent a week at the Dalal Jamm hospital in Guédiawaye, in the Dakar suburbs”.

This smart young man is sure to have contracted the virus in his workplace.

“One of my colleagues tested positive. It was not known if he was the company’s zero patient. So I decided not to go to work anymore. I preferred to stay at home until the employers disclaim his identity. It was no longer safe because the employees interact,” he explains.

A few days later, Matar perceives a first alert: “I suddenly felt ill at ease to the point of opening myself up to someone who was next to me”.

The fears were well founded since the virus was circulating in his body.

“I had chills, lost my taste and felt general fatigue. I thought it was malaria. So I bought an antimalarial. After taking this medicine, I felt better. But fourty-eight hours later, I lost my sense of smell, ”says Matar.

Obviously, something was wrong. To find out, he contacted the services of the Ministry of Health and Social Action, but they believed he was simply showing symptoms of “psychosis”.

Thanks to his mother’s intervention, agents from a health structure in the capital finally came to his home to carry out the test.

“It was April 22. I remained zen when I was told the next day that I was positive. The most important thing for me was not to have infected my family members. I was evacuated on April 24 to Dalal Jamm hospital ”, narrates Matar.

That day, the Emergency Medical Assistance Service (Samu), in charge of transporting confirmed cases, called him during the curfew, asking him to “prepare (his) things and wear a mask” .

Continuing, he blames the contagiousness of Covid-19 on the “cunning” of an elusive virus.

“Our company has taken steps to protect its employees. There were thermoflashes and hydroalcoholic gel. Social distancing was respected with several workstations taken out of service. But in any system, there can be a flaw,” he admits.

To protect his family at all costs before his evacuation to the hospital, he had to adopt a radical method. “I automatically isolated myself. I was locked in my room and I wore a mask. I rarely sneezed and when I did, I did it on the crook of my elbow. With me, there was little risk that the virus would spread, ” he says.

Contrary to the first lessons of the pandemic, Covid-19 does not always manifest itself in the same way.

“I never had a fever. My cough was not persistent. I could continue to work without anyone knowing. In this country, many people walk with the virus without knowing it. This is why, we must always respect barrier gestures, ”advises this survivor.

During the six days of hospitalisation, Matar took “hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin three times daily every three days”. Since “the treatment was to last ten days, when I left the hospital, I was given the rest of the medication I had to take at home,” he says.

This treatment protocol was developed by Professor Didier Raoult from the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire de Marseille (France). His Senegalese counterpart, Moussa Seydi of the infectious diseases department of the Fann hospital in Dakar, reproduced it with “encouraging results”.

Quickly freed from the virus, Matar, who does not suffer from any chronic pathology at risk, awards a prize to the nursing staff at Dalal Jamm hospital. “They did their job well. The social worker, doctors and nurses took care of us. We were asked if we were in pain, if we wanted to eat something. A caterer delivered the meals and we could order the dishes of our choice. We were really privileged,” he states appreciatively.

Bedridden in “a room for two patients”, Matar finds it normal that “people are afraid” of the new coronavirus. However, it is not “a disease of shame” because, according to him, anyone can suffer from it.


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