MUKAH: The experience of losing a sense of taste and smell due to being infected with the Covid-19 virus will not be easily forgotten by Stephannie Sajai, 28, who currently undergoes quarantine at the Bintulu Civic Centre.
Her father and younger brother are also quarantined at the same place along with dozens of other patients.
Having a lot of free time during the quarantine, the lass from Dalat decided to share her bitter experience recently on Facebook in her native Melanau Dalat language in order to open the eyes of other people.
Loss of sense of taste and smell
On Jan 26, Stephannie had a mild fever and recovered rapidly after taking medication but she still had phlegm in her throat.
“Initially, my sense of taste was not affected at all but on the fourth day (Jan 29), I could not taste the food nor could I smell them. At that time, I immediately contacted the health facility and then I was admitted to the quarantine center.
“At first I did not notice the symptoms. I only realised them when I felt the food that I ate tasted different from the previous meals and the coffee that I drank had no taste as if I was drinking plain water,” she said.
She added that her nose and tongue were ‘on holiday’ for the past 10 days, and she did not know when the situation would turn for the better.
“Presently my tongue can taste only about nine to 10 percent of the food, and this depends on the type of food I eat. For example, during my quarantine in Mukah before this, I used an apple as an indicator. From day to day I could taste the apple even if it was not 100 percent.
“At least I could taste a little. Take spicy food, for instance; I can taste it but not on my tongue, only in the throat and around the lips. It was really sad,” she added.
Through her Facebook page, she shared pictures and captions of her experiences tasting food from day one.
Close contact with family members
When contacted by Suara Sarawak, Stephannie explained that her father and younger brother had underwent a swab test at the Dalat Unity Stadium and were confirmed positive for Covid-19.
Meanwhile, her mother and younger sister are still in quarantine as persons-under-investigation (PUI) at Mukah Youth Camp.
“Since I have close contact with them, when my test result was obtained, I was also confirmed positive for the virus. However, I was mentally prepared before I was taken to Bintulu from Mukah Youth Camp.
“During this quarantine period, the experience is more or less the same as living in a dormitory and I am used to being away from my family. What’s important is that I have to remain positive in the situation.
“Fortunately I have a smartphone as a companion during this tough period because there is nothing else I can do apart from having a friend in the next bed to talk to.”
Stop the stigmatisation on the patient’s family
However, she also felt regret when some of her family members in the village who were not infected with Covid-19 began to be ostracised by other villagers.
“They have become the victim of the situation. I myself did not realise how and when I got infected because this virus cannot be seen with the naked eye.
“The public should not think badly of those who were infected because none of them asked for this to happen nor do they want to be infected.
“Therefore, I wish to thank everyone who supported me and my family members during this tough time. Those who weren’t infected, I hope they will continue to comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP) and take care of themselves and their families,” she said.
Stephannie also advised the public not to take it lightly when they have a fever as a potential Covid-19 carrier may experience different symptoms.
“Since I had close contact with my father and brother, I only began to have a mild fever,” she said.
She also mentioned that during the quarantine, patients were well treated by the frontliners apart from provided with many facilities including packed food, warm water, washing machine, mattress, pillows, air conditioning and so on.
Ministry of Health (MoH)’s advice as guidance
Stephannie also stressed that the government through the Ministry of Health (MoH) viewed it seriously that members of the public wear face masks, always wash their hands, practise social distancing and so on.
“All these advices are for our own good and not for fun despite having many facilities provided in quarantine and treatment centres for the comfort of the patients.
“Sometimes I feel sorry to see senior citizens and mothers who are with small children living in treatment centres because these places are not conducive for the children.
“Therefore, I hope the people out there will continue to take care of their health, always be vigilant with everything that they touch, and only go out of their house if it is really necessary,” she stressed.
She also advised that the members of the public should go straight for a shower rather than just washing their hands whenever they reach home from outside.
She said they should not take this advice lightly and that they must be on alert for normal symptoms such as fever especially those with chronic illness, pregnant mothers and children are at high risk to be infected with the Covid-19 virus.
Stephannie also thanked the frontliners for being committed in their duty to treat the patients and curb the spread of the virus.
Her experience was one of the many stories of Covid-19 patients and the loss of taste and smell are just one of the many symptoms of being infected with the virus.
There are other complications when one is infected with Covid-19 such as breathing difficulty, damage to internal organs, vascular problems and most critically, it can be life threatening.
Until now, Dalat district remains a red zone with the number of Covid-19 cases still increasing.
Therefore, everyone must continue to abide by the SOP. Practising one-meter social distancing to separate us temporarily is better than us being separated from our loved ones forever in this world.