A woman who recently tested positive for coronavirus and had been quarantined at Masvingo Teachers’ College has revealed the stigma and rejection she and others have been subjected to since their status was revealed.
Agnes Parwada (25) is from Zaka in Masvingo province and was part of a 400-plus group of returnees from South Africa and Botswana housed at the Masvingo Teachers’ College and last Tuesday.
Parwada is among 12 returnees, – seven women and five men – who were told that they had tested positive by officials from the Health Ministry on May 26. She said:
When we arrived on May 8, tests were conducted on us. They took our blood for testing, but we never got the results.
Others were not tested and we [the tested and untested] continued to live as a community, sharing items like plates, cups and spoons.
[A week later] We were just told we were positive, but not shown the results.
We were just told we were positive, but not shown the results.
This was the turning point.
The doctors and the other health officials were rude to us when we wanted to ask questions, only insisting that we should simply know that we are positive.
I vividly remember one of the doctors saying to us: ‘You have coronavirus, you are dangerous to others.
That statement was like a needle pricking our hearts. I remember very well that one of the men wanted to commit suicide.
After the announcement of the results, no one in the hostels wanted to get close to us.
We did not go to the canteen that day because we were being shunned. We started feeling rejected and lonely…
Parwada said the following day, they were taken to Rujeko Clinic in Masvingo by a team of police officers accompanied by soldiers.
They spent hours in the cold and were only given shelter after 11 pm and they have since gone for over a day, at times, without getting any food.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare expressed disbelief over Parwada’s story. He said:
I cannot comment, but I doubt if anything like that can ever happen.
Masanga referred The Standard to the social welfare provincial head for Masvingo Stansilus Sanyangone, who refused to comment saying he needed clearance first.