Friday 14 August 2020


THE chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Ruth Labode, who tested positive for Covid-19 early this month, has said the healing process for infected patients begins in the mind.

Dr Labode, who is MDC-T’s proportional representation legislator for Matabeleland North Province decided to go for testing after fellow Parliamentarians tested positive last month.

The MP and her husband tested Covid-19 positive on August 3. She has since urged all people who have tested positive to maintain a positive outlook on life and their healing process and keep the faith.

Dr Labode said she felt she just had to go and get tested for Covid-19 after some of her colleagues tested positive for the virus.

At the time, she felt flu-like symptoms.An RTD test gave her a negative result, which prompted her to go and seek a PCR test at a private facility.

She made a trip to Mater Dei Hospital and arranged for herself and her husband to get tested at a private laboratory, which guaranteed test results in a short space of time. 

Speaking via telephone from her Hillside suburb home, where she is isolating, Dr Labode said her fears were confirmed when she tested positive for the virus on August 3.

The flu-like symptoms she experienced before had made her decide to start self-quarantining before testing.

Dr Labode is one of the many Zimbabweans who have tested negative via the RDT test, only to test positive using the PCR, which is more conclusive.

She said she is isolating with her husband and it is just the two of them, although they got lonely sometimes and wished for the presence of other people, they still enjoyed each other’s company.

Asked if boredom had not yet crept in, since her ‘‘workaholic’’ routine had been disrupted when she was confined home, Dr Labode said she was still very busy as her work allowed her to work remotely.

She is due to retest today and her results will be ready by Monday. 

“It’s funny that I have just gotten used to the routine of working from home very fast. I’m actually thinking it is not a very bad arrangement after all. I am busy writing reports and attending virtual meetings. Most of the time is spent in my study, my mind will be very busy so boredom has not really visited. I may have been anxious about what I will be doing at home the whole time, when I started quarantine, but in reality, there’s been so much to do around the house and in my line of work, I have not felt it,” she said.

“I have also been focusing my mind on my health and my husband’s health and staying positive, and with the support of our networks who are just a gadget away, it has been easy to stay connected with the people that matter.”

Speaking of her personal experience, she said she had fear at some point, and had breathing problems although she later learnt to take charge of her mental health so as not to plunge into Covid-19-induced depression.

“I had a lot of fear at some point, and at one time it was late at night and I felt I could no longer breathe. Issues of faith came in and I just woke up to kneel down and pray. I could take all sorts of pills and herbal remedies, but God has to do the rest. I am now well, I am feeling okay, so is my husband but we are just going to go for testing and are hoping for the best,” she said.

She said the family’s pharmacy, which closed down after she and her husband tested positive for the virus, was not yet open as test results for some members of staff were not yet out.

Those whose results were out had tested negative.

“At the pharmacy, we are still not yet open as test results for staff members are still pending and those whose test results have come are not an enough staff complement that we can work with. Results pending are for 11 staff members,” said Dr Labode.

She called for awareness on the role of isolation of Covid-19 patients saying a lot of stigma surrounded isolation. 

“I just want people to know and understand that isolation is not a punishment but is one sure way of not transmitting the virus to the next person. People must understand that they must not stigmatise, they must just do as instructed by health personnel and stay safe. When a person has come back and is Covid-19 free, she or he can be treated the same. They are healed,” she said.

Dr Labode urged other legislators to get tested for Covid-19 before Parliament resumes on August 24.

She said enclosed spaces such as Parliament Building are a conducive environment for the spread of Covid-19.

“I want to speak to the Speaker of Parliament, to recommend that there be no Member of Parliament going back to resume duties on the 24th of August without producing a PCR test certificate that shows one has tested negative of Covid-19. We should all carry our certificates and ensure that we protect each other, our families, our communities and the general public. The parliament building due to its set up, is so enclosed and is good ground for mass Covid-19 infections,” she said.

The MP called for the decongestion of Government offices and said even those in the private sector must decongest and have only skeletal staff working at workplaces, which have since been a hotspot for Covid-19 transmissions.

“I support those pushing the motion that Government offices must close. These are abnormal times. We must not deliberately overwhelm our already stretched frontliners by risking getting infected. Those that can work from home must work from home, leaving only the most critical workers reporting physically for work,” she said. 

Dr Labode commended the Bulawayo City Rapid Response team for what she described as a sterling job in contact tracing, despite having had tested at a private facility.

Dr Labode said BCC needed its own Covid-19 testing laboratory, saying it would help to speed up the issuance of test results to people, beating the backlog caused by shortage of test kits at public testing labs.


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