What's it like to test Covid-19 positive
What's it like to test Covid-19 positive.
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At a time when he was supposed to be celebrating his 26th birthday, Brandon found himself struggling with a bad cough and a tight chest that occasionally made him speak or breathe.
This was about April 11, 2020, just over two weeks since the country locked in. At the time Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that Covid-19 had claimed 25 people's lives.
Some of the symptoms Brandon experienced were a loss of taste, appetite, night sweats and tiredness.
To make matters worse, there were 2,028 confirmed cases of the virus in the country, a little over a month after the first confirmed Covid-19 case in South Africa.
Brandon's (not his real name) life changed when he received his positive test results on April 8 following three days earlier testing for the virus. Although he had experienced dreadful symptoms, the worst was the day he was born.
"It was probably about my birthday period, a week after I got my results-because that 's when I think the virus was [at its worst] in terms of its effects. My chest was bad, "he said, recalling how he'd start coughing when trying to talk.
Two months ago that was it.
Brandon, a Pretoria resident, traveled to Durban in January to assist in the Durban branch of his employer for a few months.
But March 's implementation of the Covid-19 lockdown prolonged Brandon's stay. Brandon at the time worked remotely from the house of his parents.
The chemical engineer recalled how positive testing meant that he would be confined to a room for over a month in an interview with SAnews this Youth Month.
Brandon was also set to apply, and hopefully receive a transfer to the Durban branch of his employer. However, his employment prospects also took a knock due to economic pressures that accompanied lockdown restrictions on business.
"I had a good chance at work and would have had a new experience, but obviously getting Covid-19 and the sort of lockdown hampered that a little bit."
"It was a chance to get more experience in a higher-level position. I looked forward to the opportunity to work hard and to show my worth, but this was obviously out of my control, "he said.
He went to the hospital to see a doctor, and medication was given for his symptoms, which included a mild cough but was not tested for the virus.
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At that time , government prioritized Covid-19 testing for people who might have been exposed to the virus by coming into contact with an infected individual.
Fever lasted a day and he felt better heading into the weekend. He received news by the weekend that someone at his place of work, to whom he had been exposed, had tested the virus positively.
Coincidentally on that Sunday of April 6, he himself had made a morning turn at the hospital to get treatment for an allergic reaction.
The first thing that came to his mind after the unnerving news he had received was to go back to the hospital and get tested.
"I was like that maybe that's why I've had this flu. I was more concerned about my family at the time, because I was staying with them at the same house. I was also concerned that I did not know when I got it [Covid-19], "he said.
In the two to three day period he went through a very unsettling period of having to wait for results. On 8 April he was confirmed with his positive test results, disrupting not only his life but also the lives of his family members.
He was to start life in solitary confinement, which included using a separate bathroom and not sharing a meal with his family.
"I wasn't going to eat with my family, and they'd leave food by the door. You obviously don't want to make it worse and spread it also to your family, "he said.
He had also taken leave of work to concentrate on his wellbeing.
Upon receiving his diagnosis, Health Department officials issued a call to Brandon to check in on him.
They explained the basics of what you can do, "he said, when they called to give me the results.
He also stressed that anyone contracting Covid-19 will have their own personal experience with the virus.
I think what people need to understand is how, basically based on your circumstances and your health condition, all isolates will differ. So, the doctors are going to treat you, not Covid-19 because there is no cure. They 're going to treat you for your symptoms.
In the case of Brandon the cough was his greatest hurdle.
"My cough was so severe it lasted for four to five weeks. So that day, to make life a little more bearable, they gave me a mixture of cough, antibiotics and chest relief medication, "he said.
Officials also paid a home visit to the family where they also checked if the virus was on his parents. Luckily Covid-19 was not contracted by his parents.
One can be forgiven for wondering if the positive diagnosis caused his parents to fear him. Brandon 's parents, however, were only concerned about their sick child's wellbeing.
With the increasing numbers of those infected with the virus, the young man held his eye on the ball making a full recovery.
He felt like he had a fighting chance, being active in sport and having no comorbidity issues. He did this by taking his medication, and maintaining basic hygiene, such as regularly sanitizing his hands.
He struggled to sleep at night with a lot going on in his mind, and often had to keep himself busy with movies and doing some reading.
Looking back on his experience, he didn't feel as if his life was over or he was running out of time to do the things he still wanted to do.
"I always thought I was going to come out of this. I didn't even think of death or anything like that crossed my mind. I was trying to look at the positives at the time. I had tried to keep my mind busy. I caught up where I could in movies,' he said.
Everyone could catch the virus
Brandon 's comments follow on the address of President Cyril Ramaphosa 's Youth Day in which he told the youth that there is life beyond the pandemic.
This as South Africa commemorated the 44th anniversary of the events taking place in Soweto this week. Youth Day is paying tribute to the school pupils who lost their lives during the uprisings in Soweto on 16 June 1976.
Just as the young people of the past decades have changed the South Africa in which we live, with the support of various other individuals, Brandon has also stressed the importance of having a support structure in place to beat the virus.
"It's very important to have people around you. Especially when there is food and medication you can get. It's going to be very challenging [to do] if you stay alone.
Besides the medication he was receiving from the hospital, Brandon also leaned on home remedies to cope with the symptoms he was experiencing.
"Home remedies such as ginger milk, lemon, honey and boiling water were really helping in our community. Those are the main things I had to help with during the Coronavirus time.
He said anybody could contract the virus.
While the virus is not a death sentence he said, it is important to adhere to guidelines of the World Health Organization such as good hygiene practice and social distancing.
Health Department advises Covid-19 patients to isolate themselves for two weeks after their positive test, before returning for a second test.
While most patients usually test negative after the initial 14-day isolation period, this has not been the case with Brandon.
After testing positive for the first time on 8 April, the 26-year-old again tested positive on 20 April and had to return for another fortnight to self-isolation.
No doubt, dejection and a sense of needing to escape the kick-in of self-isolation.
"I was obviously disheartened by the fact I was again positive. So I was in isolation for nearly a good month and a half. So I was mostly upset about the second outcome, because I wanted to be done with the Covid-19 situation, "he recalls.
Testing positive, however, and the way the virus has affected everyone's life, has made him appreciate the smaller things in life.
These include going for a leisurely drive, hanging out with family and friends, and celebrating the birthday of one.
He finally celebrated his late birthday as a recovered man when, on or around 2 May 2020, he tested negative.
Covid-19 has changed life as we know it, while giving the economies around the globe a heavy blow as well.
With change taking place around us, including the need for social distance and cloth face masks that form a key element of everyday outfits, Brandon urged young people to be more accountable.
"As a teenager, I think we have to be more interested in what's going on around us, and also supportive and mindful of what we're doing. I'm not holding anyone back from having a good time and stuff, but I'm also thinking of those people who are older than us or even younger than us who risk getting Covid, "he said.
He also urged those fighting the pandemic not only to look after their bodies but also to have a positive attitude.
"Simply have faith and belief that you can essentially overcome the virus is the most important thing. As much as it's about taking care of your body and healing, you also need to look after your mind. If your mind isn't in a good place, it will only make things worse for you.
President Ramaphosa also stressed that South Africa is looking forward to creativity, innovation and new ideas from young people, not only having declared that there is life beyond Covid-19.
Although KwaZulu-Natal has more than 4,800 confirmed cases and more than 80 deaths due to the virus, today Brandon is among the more than 2,500 people in KwaZulu-Natal who have won the virus.
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