Amara Allison, the medical doctor who diagnosed Nigeria’s first COVID-19 patient in Ogun state, has narrated her experience during the 14 days she spent in isolation.
Speaking with the World Health Organisation(WHO), Allison said she took online courses while in isolation after she was exposed to the Italian citizen, the country’s index case.
The 44-year-old Italian, who flew into Nigeria from Milan, Italy, on February 24, visited Ogun state on a business assignment where he fell ill and tested positive for COVID-19.
Allison, however, said her greatest challenge was the psychological trauma she faced during the period in isolation.
“On the first day, I didn’t quite understand the gravity of it. I guess I was unconsciously in a lot of denial, thinking ‘no, not me’ which in retrospect wasn’t such a bad thing. This feeling lasted the first 48 hours,” she said.
“By my third day, it was like a flood gate opened and a dam of emotions hit me smack in my face and gut. I woke up on day three, and I just couldn’t get out of bed. That was the day the protective shock wore off. I was now unavoidably afraid. This point was where I realized the importance of a support system. Luckily my family didn’t fall short.
“The psychological trauma was my greatest challenge, just being with my thoughts alone for 14 days, good, bad, ugly. I also had to deal with the accompanying boredom and missing real human contact. It hit me really badly because aside from all that was going on, I’m a very physically active person and I couldn’t be that during this period.
“However, it wasn’t all fear if I’m being honest. The quarantine period also gave me time to self-develop as much as possible (through online courses) which was also a very welcome form of distraction.
“By my fifth day in, I learned to dispel my boredom and persistent anxiety with movies and books. I’m a fitness enthusiast and as difficult as it was for me to muster the mental energy to workout, whenever I did eventually workout, it lifted my mood significantly and left me feeling healthier.
“We were comfortable in quarantine: steady power supply, spacious rooms, healthy frequent meals surely made it liveable. It’s also important to anticipate boredom, low moods, maybe even depression. Having several means of entertainment would remedy these to an extent.”