Brenda, Brian narrate how they conquered coronavirus

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe (third left) with Covid-19 recoverees Brenda Cherotich (third right) and Brian Orinda (second left) at Afya House. Also in the picture are Health PS Susan Mochache (second right), Head of Department of Infectious Disease at KNH Loise Achieng’ and KNH Chief Executive Evanson Kamuri (right). Photo/PD/NICHOLAS NTHENGE

Barry Silah @obel_barry

There was a ray of hope in the fight against coronavirus pandemic yesterday when two Kenyan patients were declared free of the disease, three weeks after the country recorded its first case.

In a live video chat with President Uhuru Kenyatta, Brenda Ivy Cherotich and Brian Orinda attributed their recovery mainly to their decision to volunteer for testing immediately after experiencing symptoms of the disease, as well as swift intervention by medics.

Brenda, a resident of Ongata Rongai, was the first to contract the virus in the country, which was confirmed on March 12, while Brian (Patient Number 2) was a friend who was the first to interact with her. 

Brenda had arrived in the country on March 5 from America via London, United Kingdom. She had travelled to the United States in December last year.

Bubbly Brenda

“I believe somewhere in between US and UK is where I might have contracted the virus. I had travelled late last year and when I landed in Kenya, I had a cough for three days and my body felt bad.

I then monitored my body for a day and the following day I went to Mbagathi Hospital for check-up,” a bubbly Brenda said yesterday.

However, the uplifting news was soon dampened by Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe’s announcement that 22 more people had tested positive for the disease, raising the number of coronavirus cases in the country to 81.

Individual responsibility, quick response by patients to volunteer themselves for testing in hospitals, isolation, cooperation with medics, and adherence to government safety protocols were the major lessons from the Brenda and Brian recovery experience.

Not coerced

The President, who spoke to the pair from State House, Nairobi, celebrated them, particularly Brenda, for taking the decision to come out for testing as “patriotic and responsible”. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Her action not only helped to limit the spread, but also assist authorities in tracking down those she had interacted with, including Brian,” said the President.

“You are definitely special because upon your arrival and subsequently feeling not so well, you took it upon yourself without being coerced to take yourself to hospital.

This you did because you realised that you had the risk to harm others,” said the President, projecting the two as the heroes in the coronavirus battle, and a testament to the significance of individual responsibility in the fight against the disease.

Speaking at Afya House yesterday accompanied by Health CS Kagwe and her friend Brian, Brenda explained her ordeal while the President listened on the other side.

“I learnt about the isolation centre on the Internet while abroad. Anybody with symptoms should contact the authorities and come forward and be tested. It is the most responsible thing to do,” said Brenda who had spent some time in Ongata Rongai after she landed in Nairobi.

Treated well

Brenda said she was given a mask after observation by medics and subsequently quarantined for 23 days.

Patient Number Two, Brian, was infected by Brenda who interacted with him upon arrival from London.

“I got it from Brenda. Immediately her results were out, I knew I was also positive.

I thank the government because they came for me and took me to the National Influenza facility as a matter of precaution. I was treated well for the past two weeks,” said Brian.

While calling on Kenyans to remain safe and follow government regulations, the President praised the pair for taking the step to get checked.

He contrasted Brenda’s action with that of senior politicians and clergymen who failed to self-isolate for 14 days as directed by the government after visiting countries affected by the pandemic only for them to test positive for the virus.

“It is a moment of pride and we are proud of you, Brenda. You were able to tell us all the people you got in contact with.

We are celebrating the bravery you showed and because you were able to limit your contacts and identify them and trace them.

There is no single death as a result and for that. I want to say that you are a very wonderful and brave girl,” said the President.

He urged Kenyans to follow Brenda’s example and show up for testing if they suspect they have contracted the virus because it is treatable.

The President also praised medics taking care of infected people for risking their lives to safe others.

The latest cases reported yesterday showed that the disease was fast spreading to counties outside Nairobi which is by far the epicentre of the virus. 

Murang’a, Nyamira, Kakamega, Kiambu and Machakos are among those that reported their first cases. 

Kagwe, however, clarified that the patients were among those who were in quarantine in Nairobi and had not travelled to their home counties.

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