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‘I didn’t have symptoms but I tested positive for coronavirus’

 Stephen Omukoko at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi where he is recovering from the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, two men lay on their isolation beds at the Mbagathi Hospital, contemplating their fate.

They shared the silence only broken by the wheezy, almost rhythmical coughs, the same anxiety in the harrowing hours as they waited for their results. The results would determine who goes home and who stays.

The following day, Stephen Omukoko tested positive for the Covid-19. Kara’s (he asked to be identified only by one name) test was negative.

Omukoko had arrived in the hospital on Wednesday morning aboard an ambulance from a hospital in Bungoma where he had gone to seek treatment. Bungoma health workers referred him to Mbagathi after he showed symptoms associated with the virus.

But while Omukoko is settling down in Mbagathi as he recovers, Kara is glad to be home.

Deceptive disease

“I am only feeling bored. I have not had any instances of high fever and that is why to me this disease seems to be very deceptive,” he said.

While he cannot tell where he was exposed to the virus, Omukoko, who is a student in Switzerland, said his temperature was checked at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and it was normal.

“At JKIA, our fever was checked and the rest of us who did not have any issues were allowed to clear with immigration and go to our destinations,” he said.

When Omukoko landed at JKIA, he boarded another flight to Kisumu from where he boarded a matatu to his home village in Mumias.

Our Omukoko conversation was incessantly getting interrupted by a cough from one of the patients he shared the ward with. He is in a ward with five other patients who are positive.

He is not as bad as he sounds, Omukoko said of the other patient, he is actually improving.

“I had a positive mind about the results and the only thing left to do is recover,” he said.  

For Kara, on the other hand, testing negative for the virus was just the second time in a week that he had come close to the brink. He had escaped a positive diagnosis and a beating by a mob.

In the four days that he was isolated at Mbagathi, five people who were also isolated in the wards tested positive. He had to take the test three times since one of his results was inconclusive.

From March 10 when he was in Kilifi to meet a businessman, he had traveled to Kwale, Mombasa, Naivasha, Nairobi and finally to his home in Isiolo.

Mob justice

He said that when he had returned to work in Isiolo and woke up with chest pains and a dry cough and went around the town looking for a mask, he was affronted by a mob and almost beaten.

“I had just come from a hardware shop after I settled for a dust mask since I couldn’t get a face mask. They were accusing me of bringing the virus to Isiolo and would have beaten me if it wasn’t for some of the boda boda riders who knew me,” Kara said yesterday.

“After that, I called the county Public Health Officer, described my symptoms and was advised to quarantine since they did not have the test kits. In the course of the day, officers from the Covid-19 response team got in touch with me to check how I was doing,” he said.

The next day he woke up having improved. The chest pain was gone and his cough was not as bad. “The response team ruled me out as a suspected case,” he said.

However, when he left Isiolo and traveled to Naivasha and later Nairobi, the chest pains persisted.

“Two of the people I had met in Mombasa and Kilifi called and said they were having severe headache and the most high-risk person they had been in touch with was me,” he said.

He went to Mbagathi after news broke about Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi. He had come back from Germany but did not self-isolate and is one of the people who have tested positive for Covid-19.

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