‘I MET A COVID-19 PATIENT AND PANICKED’

By Qosim Suleiman

It was a Monday morning in the month of Ramadan when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. The hot weather of Sokoto had constantly made fasting in Sokoto unbearable for me. That Monday morning I was set to attend an editorial meeting at my office. I am a Journalist with a radio station in Sokoto. And then something happened!

After putting a whole lot of effort, I climbed down my bed, then I wasted some time before making for the bathroom. I was weak. I wanted to sleep, but not at this time. I reached for the easiest clothes I could find: a T-shirt and rubber jeans. I was too tired to even put on a watch or a shoe. Instead, I wore slippers.

I got to the office at 9:30 AM for a meeting slated for 9 AM. I walked in silently and picked a seat close to the door.

The atmosphere in the meeting was unusual. Colleagues were all masked up and left a considerable distance between each other.

“Welcome to yet another editorial meeting…” started Ms. Jeniffer, our comptroller news and current affairs, who was standing in for her senior. That was when I knew the meeting was just about to start.

The room was calm and quiet as story ideas and areas of coverage were discussed until she mentioned a message from our official WhatsApp group. The message was about an editor of an online newspaper in Sokoto who just tested positive for COVID19. I had not checked my WhatsApp messages that morning.

“What?!” I exclaimed.

I met with the editor in question just a few weeks before at a press briefing on covid-19. Fortunately, officials at the venue did not allow us to have handshakes or move close to each other.

After much thought I was thankful I had used a face mask.

Social distancing was also practiced at the venue even as we were offered hand sanitizers before entering the hall. But, in truth, I was still scared.

“Could I have contracted this virus?”

“But I don’t have any symptoms though.”

“But can one can be asymptomatic?”

The thoughts above and a thousand others lingered and raced to and fro my mind.

I became restless but tried to calm myself. I am still going to attend another press briefing today, I remembered.

After a moment I felt I could discern where the editor had contracted this virus. He said it himself at the press briefing that he had contact with the second covid-19 case in the state, days before the patient tested positive. The patient was a police officer at the Government House in Sokoto.

This caused me much fear and ever since I have never left my house without a face mask.

IMAGE CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

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Victor Kalalanda

Victor Kalalanda is a final year media student at the University of Zambia, and he is the current managing editor of this online newspaper, the Lusaka Star. His expertise as a final year media student straddles two vastly different countries, namely Switzerland, where he worked for a top-tier media agency as a B360 Digital Marketing Global Intern, and Zambia, where he has, as either stringer or intern, competitively held jobs with all State-owned media—the Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (TV1 & TV2). For additional media production skills and insights, he completed a two-months internship with Loyola Media Productions & Broadcasting Zambia Limited—and continues to serve with a campus radio station as a reporter, news and show presenter. Before university, he survived on a series of odd jobs, later worked as a street hawker, itinerant security guard and barman, during which time he suffered bouts of humiliation and poverty, and vowed that if he ever got a real chance at life, he would die a little to make the most of it. As such, since entering university, grit and determination have been his life's guiding principles and this has in the past led a lecturer and a recruiter to describe him as "very aggressive and ambitious." In 3 years he has built a reputation for academic excellence, won 3 coveted awards and he has served in top student leadership positions as a class representative, publicity secretary and senior news editor. In his final year he now concentrates not only on building a great GPA but also on raising his career profile as a digital marketing consultant, professional ghostwriter and book editor, journalist, managing editor of the Lusaka Star, public relations aide and research assistant. He balances up his enthusiasm for career development with humanitarian work as a secretary general of an NGO, and further as a guitarist. He enjoys intellectual discussions around the subjects of love, relationships, media, politics, economics, education, underdevelopment, religion, charity, literature, sports and travelling.

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