Kenyan nurse stigmatized over Coronavirus fears'

Kenyan nurse stigmatized over Coronavirus fears'

A Kenyan nurse found herself being shunned and harassed after she prepared a patient for a Covid-19 test while she was on a nightshift.

Eunice Mwabili says the case was handled professionally - she wore personal protective equipment while dealing with the man, who was placed in an isolation room at the hospital.

By the next morning, her friends and neighbors in the capital, Nairobi, had begun to avoid her, fearing she had become infected with coronavirus.

It is unclear who leaked the information that she had organised to have the patient tested - but both her name and number were leaked on social media.

The patient ended up being negative, but that news never filtered out - the damage was done.

She began to receive phone calls from strangers - some wanting to know where she worked - and anxious friends wanting to find out her status.

"Out there it was like I was already a COVID suspect. It really affected me. The story was even on the media.

One neighbour shouted to her: "I hear you are the one catching coronavirus patients."

An acquaintance told her husband that she really pitied him "because of what has happened to your wife".

"Do you imagine, up to today that lady friend has never bothered to call me to find out how I'm doing after that incident," she said.

She is not the only Kenyan who has faced coronavirus-linked stigma.

Even some of those who have recovered have found it hard to be accepted back into their communities.

Recently Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe spoke about someone who had fully recovered but was not allowed to re-join their local choir.

The ministry says others have found that after leaving hospital even their families have been stigmatised.

 Fifteen more people, including a Rwandese, have tested positive for coronavirus raising the total number of infections in the country to 715.

Kenya has so far registered 36 COVID-19 deaths even as scientists in the country and around the world race against time to find a cure for the disease that has left 286,000 dead and over 4 million others infected.

BBC