‘This virus is here, and it is dangerous’—A young Covid-19 survivor warns of long-term effects

Rinae Sengani a recovering covid patient
Written by Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

A Covid-19 survivor suffering the long-term effects of the illness has a stark warning for those who still do not believe that the coronavirus affects younger South Africans.

“Though I have healed from Covid-19, I can confidently say that I am yet to fully recover,” said Rinae Sengani, who survived Covid-19 only to endure long-term symptoms.

Sengani, who is in her 30s, managed to fight off the virus and is testing negative. Yet, her symptoms persist.

“From time to time, I still experience some of the Covid-19 symptoms such as headaches, shortness of breath and I am always fatigued, she told Health-e News. “The effects of this virus just do not want to leave my body.”

Sengani was diagnosed with Covid-19 in August last year but was never hospitalised. Instead, she chose to self-quarantine at her home in Gogogo village, outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo. Fortunately, she had no other comorbidities and recovered from the virus fairly quickly.

Mild symptoms

Though Covid-19 affects different people in different ways, most infected people will develop mild to moderate illness and recover without hospitalisation.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), most people infected with Covid-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.

Rinae Sengani a long-term covid-19 sufferer trying to keep fit

Keeping fit while suffering long term effects of Covid-19.

“Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness,” the WHO said in a report.

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 include fever, dry cough and tiredness. Less common symptoms include aches, sore throat, diarrhoea, headaches and loss of taste or smell.

“Before I was diagnosed with Covid-19, I experienced a serious headache for about three days and then I had breathing difficulties and then after that I couldn’t feel any taste of the food. That is when I decided to google symptoms of Covid-19 and realised that what I was experiencing was coronavirus symptoms,” said Sengani.

“I then decided to go and get tested and the result came back the following day confirming that I was actually positive for Covid-19,” she recalls. “Luckily, I was staying alone throughout the whole period of isolation so it was much easier to self-isolate.”

Sengani fought off the virus using both prescription medicines and home remedies.

Fighting a pandemic, and gender-based violence

The plucky thirty year-old is also the founder of Rinae Sengani Foundation, an organisation fighting gender-based violence. Now she is spending much of her time fighting the stigma and misinformation of the global pandemic.

“This virus is real, and it is very dangerous and harmful to one’s body and health and the sooner people take it serious the better,” she said. “Not all people will be lucky as I was to survive this virus. I urge my fellow South Africans to ensure that they take care of themselves and protect each other from this virus.

Despite choosing to quarantine on her own, Sengani said she was afraid of telling those around that she had tested positive for Covid-19, including even her closest friends, fearing discrimination.

“When I received the results, I was more scared of the stigma associated with the virus than dying,” she said. “I was more scared of telling people that I had tested positive of Covid-19 as I had a fear of how people will react or treat me.”

The source of her original infection remains a mystery, but the Limpopo resident said these days she is following all the Covid-19 precautionary measures. She wears a face masks, sanitises her hands and maintains social distancing. She also uses her experience to teach others about the reality of this deadly virus.

“I believe that it is our duty as citizens to always ensures that we protect ourselves and other people from this virus by following all the preventative measures which we are being reminded of almost every day,” she said. “This virus is here, and it is dangerous.”—Health-e News

About the author

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho is citizen journalist who is based in the Vhembe District of Limpopo province. He joined OurHealth in 2015 and his interests lie in investigative journalism and reporting the untold stories of disadvantaged rural communities. Ndivhuwo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies from the University of Venda and he is currently a registered student with UNISA.