I was abandoned infected with COVID 19 -Liberian pregnant nurse recounts ordeal


Liberian nurse Sedia Marwolo was 32 weeks pregnant when medics arrived at her home and hauled her away to a special coronavirus hospital , which she likened to “ hell” .

It was the beginning of a 15-day ordeal during which the 38- year – old cried almost daily and was crippled with fear over whether her baby would survive her COVID – 19 infection.

Marwolo ’ s bosses sent her home in early May — without giving her a reason — although colleagues later told her that her immediate supervisor had tested positive for coronavirus .

Five days after taking it upon herself to take a test , medical staff in protective gear were waiting for Marwolo at her house , while her neighbours watched her be taken away .

In a nightmare for an expecting mother , Marwolo was separated from her family and taken to a coronavirus intensive care unit in a military hospital east of the capital Monrovia .

“ I was like in hell, alone , and abandoned , ” she said .

“To be pregnant and find yourself in a coronavirus ICU is terrible ” .

Liberia has recorded some 250 cases to date , with 24 fatalities — a low number compared with virus – stricken Europe and the United States .

But as with other poor countries in the region, there are fears that Liberia is ill-equipped to handle a large outbreak .

The nation of some 4 . 8 million people was already badly hit during West Africa ’ s 2014 – 16 Ebola crisis, which killed more than 4 , 800 people in Liberia .

Inside the military hospital , Marwolo did not eat for two days out of fear. “ I noticed that my baby was no longer moving in my stomach , ” she said .

But she found a friend and ally in Harriette Mondaye, a midwife employed by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA ), who counsels pregnant coronavirus patients.

“ It was a difficult moment , ” Mondaye said , adding that the infected nurse cried every time they spoke on the phone .

There are concerns that pregnant women are particularly vulnerable in the coronavirus crisis.

During the Ebola crisis in Liberia , wary hospitals sometimes refused to take in any patients, leaving some pregnant women to give birth in the street .

To avoid this scenario playing out again , the UNFPA is providing maternity advice in Liberia ’ s coronavirus hospital , Mondaye said .

Marwolo eventually began to eat again , and was discharged from the coronavirus hospital after 15 days , having recovered.

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She then gave birth to baby girl , who did not contract the virus .

But after surviving the ordeal , Marwolo and her family now face the stigma of having had a brush with COVID – 19.

Her husband and one of her three children also contracted the disease , and recovered , making the family near -pariahs in her neighbourhood .

“ The stigmatisation is another hell for any victim of this virus to go through, ” she said .

“ It is like a curse. We are even planning to leave the community. ”

Marwolo credits her recovery to help from Mondaye, and wants to undertake further studies in order to counsel people in similar positions of distress .

“ She encouraged me , she gave me hope, ” Marwolo said .

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