By Dolphas Ochola in Migori County
Austin Otieno is one of the 2, 148 patients to have recovered from COVID-19 in Kenya so far.
Otieno, a clinical officer in Kehancha Sub-County in Migori County, tested positive for coronavirus nearly four weeks ago.
He suspects he contracted the dreaded virus from Tanzanian nationals who flocked to Kenyan hospitals, given the health facilities on Tanzanian soil are located extremely far away from their places of residence, which are nearer to Kehancha.
“On Tanzanian end, the nearest hospital from the Kenya-Tanzania border at Sirare, is 40 kilometers; that explains why we received many patients from Tanzania at the Kehancha Sub-County Hospital or Ntimaru Hospital in Kuria East,” Otieno told K24 Digital.
After attending to different patients as a clinical officer during the COVID-19 crisis, Otieno caught the bug four weeks ago. He learnt of his COVID-19 status after volunteering to get tested for the virus. Otieno suspects he contracted the contagion from one of the patients, whom he attended to at Ntimaru Hospital.
“I did not suspect that I would turn positive for the virus because I was asymptomatic at the time. However, I took it (COVID-19 results) positively as a health worker. I was the second health worker from Migori County to test positive for COVID-19,” he said.
Otieno was taken to Nyatike Isolation Centre, where he spent 21 days under quarantine.
“At the quarantine facility, I still remained asymptomatic,” he said.
“On the 10th day of my stay at the quarantine facility, I was tested for COVID-19. The first test returned results as ‘invalid’. The second attempt, indicated I was COVID-19 negative, the third attempt — of the same test — showed I was still COVID-19 positive.”
A possible explanation for the conflicting results, Otieno says: “Maybe the dead viruses responsible for COVID-19 were still showing, or maybe the virus had not yet shed.”
“Due to the confusion, I decided to stay at the quarantine facility for another seven days. After completing the one-week stay, the second round of tests, showed I was COVID-19 negative. I stayed for another few days, and the results returned negative on the third testing. I was, thereafter, discharged,” he said.
The health worker says Kenyans should debunk fears that COVID-19 is an automatic killer-disease.
“At the quarantine facility, we were 22 COVID-patients; four of us were healthcare workers. By the time I was leaving the quarantine facility, 18 had been discharged, and only four were remaining in isolation. I was later on told that the four that I had left behind, were also discharged after testing negative for COVID-19.
“I want to tell Kenyans that being COVID-19-positive is not a death sentence.”