• July 10th, 2020

Letter - Life in quarantine

As Covid-19 continues to spread around the globe, repatriated Namibians, such as myself, are wrestling with the uncomfortable side effect of widespread infectious disease: quarantine. A quarantine is designed to keep high-risk individuals who may have been exposed to the virus in isolation during the disease’s infectious period, to see if they became sick. Since Covid-19’s incubation period is believed to be 14 days or fewer, that is how long the quarantine period has lasted for the Namibians who have since returned home. For some, quarantine is merely inconvenient, or at worst, dull. For others, especially those quarantined without their luggage, like myself, the situation is more precarious. 

Upon landing at Hosea Kutako International Airport, we found a large interdisciplinary team waiting and ready to receive us in a well coordinated operation. I had an intense 50-hour journey to touch down on Namibian soil and was beyond exhausted at this point. I faced unimaginable delays, shared a flight from London to Addis Ababa with an unruly passenger who went somewhat berserk midflight and made repeated attempts to open the aircraft doors because he wanted to disembark. To make matters worse, the crew aboard that flight were seemingly afraid of him and did little to nothing to appease the rest of the passengers, so we took matters into our own hands and restrained him ourselves with cable ties provided by the crew. Madness. 

Nonetheless, the sheer operational excellence on the ground at Hosea Kutako made my coronavirus-related homecoming all the more special, impressive to say the least. The Ministry of Health and Social Services staff, Namibia Airports Company staff, Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration and Safety and Security staff and Air Namibia ground crew were all highly professional and knew exactly what they were doing. Finding out my luggage was left behind in Addis Ababa was annoying but I think I was too fatigued to really care at that point. We boarded the buses destined for our respective quarantine facilities (Heja Lodge, Gross Barmen and Swiss Chalets) and we were briefed on what we can and cannot do by a ministry of health official. Our bus driver, Tate Daniel and I shared a few words that warmed my heart. He carried out his duty proudly and happily. He told me he has been driving buses for 27 years and was unafraid to drive us, even though we posed a potential risk to him. He seemingly really liked his disposable hazmat suit, as he wanted a lot of photos taken of him.  Fast forward to three days in quarantine and surreal boredom kicked in for me. We’re a small group of nine people so we’re allowed to wander around the premises, provided we maintain a two metre distance from one another. The staff are the kindest and friendliest people who make every effort to ensure our comfort. I spend a lot of time in my room mostly because I am a tv person. I’ve killed a lot of time thus far, watching movies and tv shows that have been the number one source of entertainment for me. 

We have social workers that come in almost on a daily basis to ensure our psychological and social needs are being met. It goes without saying that life in quarantine is psychologically challenging and emotionally draining. I didn’t expect this level of care to be provided for us. I was quite weepy one day and having a professional to soothe me, made all the difference in the world. Not being able to get a hug, is another story. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a hugger. Making do without human touch has been particularly difficult for me in quarantine. I speculate I could be experiencing withdrawal as it is basic human nature to want and need human touch, and right now, with social distancing in place, touch starvation is getting the better of me. 

All in all, I must commend the manner in which we are being treated in quarantine - all efforts are being made to ensure our comfort and that our needs are met. I look forward to getting my clean bill of health and having my quarantine period come to an end.

Staff Reporter
2020-05-29 10:04:45 | 1 months ago

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