An interview with Bogadi Kopong, National Food Safety Manager for Food Lover’s Market
My name is Bogadi Kopong and I am the National Food Safety Manager for Food Lover’s Market. On the 23rd of April, I tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Bogadi, please tell us a bit about your symptoms and what led you to get tested for COVID-19?
I had very mild symptoms. Mine was just a slight headache at night and when I checked my temperature it was above normal. Mine was 37.8ºC and a normal temperature is usually about 37ºC.
Because it was already at night, I monitored myself and the following day, my temperature was back to normal and I didn’t even have a headache anymore. So I thought I would monitor myself and see what happens. Three days later, I lost my sense of taste and smell, which are the symptoms that made me go to the hospital to try and get a test done. I knew that I would have to go through a screening process at the hospital before getting tested. After telling about my symptoms, they decided that I met the criteria and they tested me. Three days after being tested, I got my results back and it confirmed that I was positive.
I got a call from the hospital to tell me about the isolation process, which means I had to be inside the house for 14 full days and that I couldn’t be in close contact with anybody. If I lived with family or other people, I was told that I would need to isolate in my own room for 14 days and try to protect my family and friends from infection. And no visiting or visitors are allowed.
What was self-isolation like for you?
Luckily, my isolation period was easier as I live alone here in Cape Town. But for those colleagues who live with their family, they need to make sure that they have their own rooms. If it’s not possible for you to have your own room, you must always wear your mask, always wash your hands and try to stay at least 1.5 meters apart. Always sanitise your hands, your worktops, your door handles, your bathroom handles, etc. Make sure you take precautions and follow the protocols as much as you can to protect yourself and your family.
There seems to be a stigma around people who have tested positive and they find their colleagues are nervous about them when they come back to work. Did you notice this?
I would like to share with my colleagues that they shouldn’t panic at all when colleagues who have tested positive come back to work because COVID-19 is not a death sentence. You can recover from it 100%. I am an example of this – I recovered and went back to work. It was total bliss. I met up with my colleagues and they all welcomed me. They weren’t scared of me. I was very happy to be back at work but we still had to take precautions. No hugging, no shaking hands, no sharing of stuff, keeping distance, wearing of masks. We still continue to do that.
Would you like to say anything else to your colleagues?
If you haven’t as yet been tested or had the virus, I would encourage you to welcome your colleagues back with open arms and positivity as they need your support more than anything. My colleagues supported me so well. I was extremely happy and I feel that everyone should do the same. We shouldn’t stigmatize them. People coming back are not going to infect you as they are free of the virus after 14-days.
I want to urge everyone out there to be sensitive enough to welcome colleagues who tested positive back with a positive mind, with a positive attitude, and with positive energy. Because at the end of the day, we are in this together and we are going to beat it someday, and the world will be free of COVID-19. We should continue taking care of each other and respect each other, and work for our company and grow it….and have fun doing that!