With the start of the New Year, many have hoped for a promising and fruitful 2021 since the corona virus pandemic hit last year. With boarders closing down and minimal or no interaction with other countries, many businesses have perished. The world, including Malawians were excited for a good start to the year. Sadly this was not the case. As of the 11th of January, 2021, the outbreak of the coronavirus (covid-19) has spread to six continents and over 1.9 million people have died after contracting the respiratory virus.
In Malawi, the outbreak has reached its highest peak with a total of 16,049 cases, 9339 active cases and 396 deaths as of the 22nd of January, 2021. Over the last two months, citizens lived carelessly due to the brief decrease in the number of deaths caused by the virus. This has caused a surge in the number of active cases all throughout January. Although many have died from virus, a lot more have recovered after following the necessary recovery measures and have lived another day to tell their story.
Unlike the HIV virus, covid-19 patients have faced little to no stigma and victims have shared on social media that they have or had the virus. Malawian twitter users have shared their experiences with the virus. Despite the lack of sigma, these victims chose to stay anonymous for personal reasons and aliases were used.
Nichole Chavula and John Chibwana both explain that they had been having a dry cough, fatigue, difficulties breathing over the past few days and as well as body pains. “On the fourth day I had trouble breathing. My chest was really tight. I had to use an inhaler few times”, Nichole shared.
John on the other hand suffered horribly with the flu symptoms. “…my flu started and it is a flu I’ve never experienced in my whole 27 years. The noses could not open no matter what I did. I called for a Covid test cause I had a feeling it was corona.”
With all the remedies and natural immune boosters circulating on social media, it has made it hard to believe what actually works for corona virus patients. The two patients though in completely different homes share that they have been taking vitamin C tablets, zinc as well as concoctions that mainly contain lemon, honey, ginger and garlic . Since the implementation of these remedies to their daily routine, they have noticed a significant change in their conditions. “It’s been eight days and my symptoms are disappearing”, added John.
John filled with distress shares that his life has been put on hold and is unable to work and earn money for himself. Although living in isolation, the two still contact the outside world via social media and calls. “My friends and I (both found positive) do group phone calls every day in the evening. And just talk, joke and laugh. It helps get your mind of things…”, said Nichole.
Despite all the awareness and protective measures being done in society, it appears many Malawians do not know what they are up against. Densely populated areas such as Limbe market and Bwangwe continue to live carelessly with only a handful wearing masks and social distancing. Perhaps people in these areas assume that the corona virus is a fragment of our imagination, a social construct. In relation to the outbreak of the virus, the Malawi president, Dr Lazarus Chakwera is said to be fasting for the virus to end.