COVID survivor who lost 3 relatives to virus pleads with all to get vaccinated

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By Isanella Patoir

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A few months after 32-year-old Eyon Boyal thought he had beaten the deadly COVID-19, he started experiencing seizures.

And while he has been able to control his seizures with medication, one year later after his diagnosis, Boyal now suffers from anxiety and depression.

In August 2020, Boyal tested positive for COVID-19 in Batavia, a small indigenous village located along the Lower Cuyuni River. He contracted the virus from a relative who returned from a mining area in the Cuyuni River.

However, during that time COVID test results took weeks to return to hinterland communities. By the time the relative’s results returned to the village he had already infected many others, Boyal included.

“Before our results returned, I already had the symptoms…the loss of taste and smell….I would say those are the easy symptoms of COVID but I had the hard attack, I had the chest pains and shortness of breath,” Boyal explained during an interview with News Room on Thursday.

Boyal, who is now the ministerial liaison officer to the National Toshaos Council within the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, spent over a month in isolation with severe symptoms of the virus.

“How I got over it is we treat ourselves with our Amerindian herbal medicine but the shortness of breath and chest pains, those were the ones that were difficult and we had to do different things,” Boyal explained.

But not long after that, the seizures started. Boyal said it lasted for about five minutes. After this continued for three months, he decided to go to the hospital where he did a CT scan and an MRI.

“Upon getting those results, the doctor told me [I am] the first patient [he] saw with this complaint.”

Boyal explained that doctors found three cysts at the back of his head which resulted in the seizures. However, the doctor explained that he was born with the cysts which were dormant for years but the COVID-19 virus had reduced his immunity level so low that it activated the cysts.

“Right now, I am on three times daily tablets for the last seven months and it has been helping me with the seizure attacks.

“Life has been different, we could not go back to the way we used to live before on an individual level,” Boyal stated.

Loss of relatives

In recent months, three of Boyal’s relatives died from COVID-19; they were all unvaccinated.

“They were religious people [and] they didn’t want to take the vaccine.”

Boyal believes the vaccine is important to curb the spread of the virus so he took his first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine in April this year and received his second dose in May.

“After taking the vaccine, the two doses, I felt a lot better because majority of the symptoms went away and I felt more confident that life is going to go on and I am also caring for my body as well as my family members because I love my family and even my colleagues at work,” Boyal told the News Room.

As a former teacher and toshao, Boyal is encouraging all those who are eligible to get vaccinated so that Guyana can return to some form of normalcy.

Already 744 people have died from the virus since March 2020; 119 of those deaths were recorded in September 2021, making it the only month to record the highest number of deaths.

The country is currently battling a third deadlier wave of the virus and recorded a total of 30, 444 confirmed cases.

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