Guyanese journalist recounts near-death experience with COVID-19

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By Bibi Khatoon

Guyanese journalist, Shabna Rahman who works with the privately-owned newspaper, the Stabroek News, is thankful for her life after the new Coronavirus disease left her unconscious in a hospital in New York.

Rahman has been in the United States since February and at that time, the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) was not as prevalent as it is now but she still took all precautions, which included using hand sanitizer, wearing a mask and avoiding the outside unless absolutely necessary.

But this did not save her from contracting the dreadful disease.

Rahman told the News Room that on March 28, she began to experience flu-like symptoms such as chills and body aches. At first, she chose to use a lot of soup and vitamins in order to build her immune system as she thought it was just the flu.

However, on April 1, her symptoms worsened when she was unable to get out of bed and ended up in the Emergency Room at the Jamaica Hospital in Queens, New York (NY) in an unconscious state due to hypoxia, which is low oxygen in the blood.

“The morning I couldn’t get up like I usually would and [my sister] came and check on me and I told her I’m coming just now.

“…but I probably dozed off but she came back with my husband on video call and they noticed that I wasn’t responding, I seemed disoriented and I was totally blank and I wasn’t registering anything that they were around.”

The 48-year-old mother was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

“I didn’t know anything until several hours later when I woke up in the hospital and that part was scary because I couldn’t remember getting very sick to be there,” the Guyanese Journalist recalled.

Samples were taken to administer a COVID-19 test and Rahman was discharged.

Upon her return home, her family was overjoyed including her husband Dr. Sayed Ghazi who heads the Cancer Institute in Guyana.

“…I think prayers helped to bring me out of this so fast,” Rahman said as she thanked God for life.

Rahman, who was in isolation at home since she fell ill, continued isolating from her family members as she waited two weeks for her COVID-19 results which proved that she was positive.

Rahman said she is unaware of how she contracted the disease.

She said upon her arrival in the US, she would only venture outside when absolutely necessary and even carry a bottle of hand sanitizer which she constantly used.

“I always have a bottle of small sanitizer in my bag which I keep with me and I would have wipes and everything and I make sure my hands were always clean…we were taking precautions to just go out when it necessary so I couldn’t trace where I picked it up from,” she said.

Rahman is urging persons to take the virus seriously.

“When it hits you, it hits you really hard,” she said.

The Ministry of Public Health has been encouraging person to adhere to social distancing guidelines and taking precautions with the use of sanitizers or wash hands frequently.

New York has recorded over 282,000 cases of the COVID-19 with 16,599 deaths.

Guyana has recorded 74 COVID-19 cases with eight deaths.

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