THE Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Lovemore Matuke who was recently in self-isolation after testing Covid-19 positive has said it pains him to see people moving around in public places without putting on face masks.
Zimbabwe has recorded more than 6 000 Covid-19 cases, 195 deaths and 5 043 recoveries since the first case was reported in March.
Matuke who has since returned to work after recovering from the deadly disease joins senior Government officials such as Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Vangelis Peter Haritatos, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development permanent secretary Mr George Guvamatanga who have recovered from Covid-19.
The late Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri who succumbed to the virus on July 29, is the most senior Government official to die of Covid-19.
Matuke said on July 26 he decided to go for Covid- 19 testing after he started experiencing flu like symptoms.
He said he also had a fever, dry cough and experienced tiredness.
“I started sneezing first before experiencing a dry cough and I decided to go for Covid-19 testing on July 26. Results came back positive on July 29,” he said.
Matuke said he is not sure whether he contracted the virus from a Covid-19 positive person or a contaminated surface. No one else in his family was infected.
In an interview last Friday, Matuke narrated how the past month has been the toughest in his life.
After testing positive, he said he advised his colleagues in the Ministry and thereafter went to his rural home in Gutu, Masvingo province to self-isolate.
He said it’s difficult when one can’t be in contact with his relatives and children for fear of infecting them.
“I went to my rural home where I was in self-isolation. I had lost my sense of smell and taste. I had lost appetite and I was coughing and sneezing. It was hell I tell you and I wouldn’t want to experience that again. It’s so painful because at times I would run short of breath,” said the Deputy Minister.
He said the first week after testing positive was very difficult for him as he feared death.
“Remember we are dealing with a virus that has no cure. So I was afraid, my family was afraid. We were all facing what looked like a bleak future and the first week was not good. But I had to fight it and fortunately I tested negative about three times,” he said.
Matuke thanked God for saving his life. He also paid special tribute to his wife and his daughter who is a nurse for risking their lives for his sake. Matuke said the two went out of their way putting him on drips, feeding him and making sure he drank hot water and steamed at least four times a day.
To fight the virus, he said he ate garlic, onion, steamed using a plant called Zumbani in Shona Umsuzwane in Ndebele and wormwood in English.
The Deputy Minister also used other indigenous plants in and around his rural home.
He also took Vitamins B, C and D and Zinc.
“I was made to drink some mixture of water, garlic and onion as well as steam using Zumbani and other indigenous plants. All this was made possible with the assistance of my wife and my daughter who risked it all for me and today here I am,” said Matuke.
He said he was in self-isolation for more than 21 days in line with Government and World Health Organisation (WHO) health guidelines.
Matuke said he also felt that the virus had affected him sexually and he also lost some weight.
“Covid-19 is real and is here until such a time when there is a cure. The last month has been very difficult for me and my family, the toughest in my life,” he said.
Matuke also paid tribute to his parents, in-laws and siblings for supporting him in his hour of need.
“The other thing is, we need to fight stigma because if one is stigmatised he or she might succumb to the virus as a result of neglect. We need to strictly adhere to Government and WHO health guidelines as we fight this pandemic,” said Matuke.
He said it was important for people to wear face masks especially in public places as well as maintaining social distancing.
“After going through this experience, it pains me to see people walking around without their face masks or talking to each other. Motorists seem to put on the masks when approaching road blocks. President Mnangagwa has called for strict adherence to Covid-19 lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus and such measures are for our own good and benefit which we should follow. Let’s put on face masks, let’s observe social distancing,” said Matuke.
He said the world over, it looks like more emphasis is put on talking about the virus instead of proffering solutions even traditional solutions to beat the virus.
Matuke said there are a lot of local remedies which he said haven’t been scientifically proven by WHO which are being used successfully in the country.
“As we speak there are more recoveries and this is as a result of local remedies which people need to share.
“We have local solutions which should be considered. I think we also need to reorient some nurses on stigmatisation. Nurses didn’t want to get close to me and that’s why I decided to leave Harare to be with my family members whom I knew would not abandon me. Of course we made sure they were protected enough before coming to see me,” he said.
Matuke said more efforts should be put on assisting infected people so that they don’t panic.
He urged people to share with others if they are affected or infected so that they get assistance.
“We must not hide our loved ones who are infected, we should tell each other so that they are not stigmatised. Sunshine, drinking hot water, listening to advise from other people, self-quarantine and proper use of masks is good and helps.
“That is how I managed to survive. If one has underlying factors, they must not forget the other diseases they have and should continue taking their medication,” said Matuke.
Deputy Minister Haritatos who also survived the virus, said he felt like something “evil” had entered his body when he was infected.
“The coronavirus is real. The last few weeks have been the toughest in my life. I thank God for saving me and giving me the strength to fight an evil virus that has ravaged the world over,” he said.
Haritatos like Matuke also paid tribute to his wife, children, in-laws and siblings for supporting him during his illness. -Chronicle