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General News of Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

From being stigmatised to psyching coronavirus patients; a contact tracer’s story

When he signed up to be part of a team whose core duty is to fish for coronavirus patients in his beloved neighbourhood, he was not unaware of the dangers that came with the job.

Each passing morning when he bids goodbye to his family to join up with his colleague contact tracers at their assembly point (Mamobi Poly Clinic), thoughts of catching the virus hit him but he has at no point contemplated going back on a promise he made to himself.

As Ghana’s positive cases soared, the demand for extra hands to help the limited number of nurses became apparent.

While others shied away, he manned up and against the wishes of his family, took up the challenge to be a contract tracer in his neighbourhood which was fast becoming a hot spot.

It has been some three months since he was recruited and his resolve remains unshaken.

His motivation does not come from the daily stipend he receives, but rather an innate desire to help control the spread of the Coronavirus in his area.

“Our job is basically to the house of people who are suspected to have come into contact with COVID-19 patients and get them tested. We started when the lockdown started and it has been over a month”.

“After waking up in the morning and getting my things ready, we go to the office and we are assigned a particular area. We go with a nurse and a lab technician then we head for the house or area we’ve been assigned to.

“When we get to the house, we talk to those who have come in contact with a patient then we take their names, number, occupation and other things. We also try to find out if they have been experiencing any issues before the nurse goes ahead to take the sample. After taking the sample, we placed them in an ice chest, arrange them and send them to Noguchi,” he narrated to GhanaWeb.

The beginning, he admits was scary to him but as he crossed paths with patients and healed patients, his faith and determination got renewed. He was now more than ever determined to help his area.

Being a contract tracer, you are not only exposed to the risk of getting the virus but also the stigmatization attached to it. He suffered stigmatization and had hands pointed at him as the ‘coronavirus guy’ but interestingly when some of the mockers tested positive, he was the very person they fell on for assistance.

He went from being the guy whom everyone was unwilling to be associated with, to being the go-to guy for COVID-19 patients in his community.

“When we started, there was the fear that we might get the virus but as time went on and you get to meet some patients and some people who have recovered, you get used it. It became normal.”

“We have been assigned in our own community. What motivates me is that I want to help the community to be COVID free. When I started, whenever I came home from work, my friends will be like this is the corona guy and no one wanted to come close to you, but when some of the people who mocked me tested positive, they called me for help and assistance.”

“When they were being sent to the isolation centres, I went with them. I sat in the ambulance with some of them and psyche them. They tell me their fears and I encourage them. Even now I send food to some people. My family was scared but I explained to them that if I don’t do it, who else will.

“I told them someone had to do it, so they understood. Where my mum stays, some of them were confirmed and they didn’t want to go so I had to go and to them. I went with them to the isolation centre and some of them have recovered,” he further noted.

He explained that they are not owed any arrears contrary to reports.

The COVID-19 contact tracer is a Nima resident who spoke to www.ghanaweb.com on condition of anonymity

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