The Bachelor's Jacqueline tests positive for Covid-19 and expresses guilt after grandmother contracts disease

Jacqueline Ramos-Pinto
Jacqueline Ramos-Pinto
Photo: M-Net

The Bachelor SA's Jacqueline Ramos-Pinto has tested positive for Covid-19. 

Speaking to Channel24, Jacqueline opened up about the guilt she experienced after she unknowingly passed on the virus to her grandmother, and hopes by speaking out to break the social stigma associated with the Covid-19.

"I've been getting so many questions from people that are fearful and nervous about the virus. I just feel like the more people we can reach with the story, the better," she tells Channel24

Jacqueline got tested after her grandmother was diagnosed with Covid-19 last week. As her grandmother is homebound, it became apparent that she contracted the disease from a family member in the residence, and following her diagnosis, the entire family got tested.

Like many South Africans, Jacqueline moved into her family's home during the national lockdown as she didn't want to be separated from her family for an extended period of time. 

About the events that led up to Jacqueline's diagnosis, she says: "My grandmother didn't have a fever, though. She was just extremely tired, and she just wanted to sleep. Her breathing was really bad, and she actually couldn't sit up properly. At first, we were scared to take her to the hospital out of fear that she might contract Covid-19. I never thought that she had Covid-19, the thought maybe entered my mind for a split second, I thought it was impossible. The following day, her test came back positive, which meant that somebody had given it to her, somebody that was close to her."

She explains that her family all got tested, and early the following day, they received their results - all testing negative. Her positive result was the last to arrive, much later in the evening. 

Johannesburg Covid-19 Testing Centre

Jacqueline explains that her symptoms were unlike those she had read about in the news, and even while standing in line to get tested, she didn't expect to test positive. 

For people who might feel uneasy about the testing process, Jacqueline says that the worst part was "standing in the line", and the worry that you might infect people around you, or contract the disease from someone in the queue. Although some people have expressed discomfort obtaining the throat swab culture, she describes the process as relatively quick with no serious pain. 

"My symptoms were extremely mild. They were sniffles, sneezing, headache. I suffer from hay fever, and thought it was just that. Even though I didn't feel well, I just carried on with my work. I had body pains, but I thought: 'You know what? You've just been really busy, and on your feet all day'," she says. 

After she received her results her symptoms started to get more severe, she explains: "Then I experienced very sharp pains in my chest and difficulty breathing, like the feeling of not being able to get a full breath. And I was experiencing extreme fatigue. And then also something else that I've researched and it's a really strange symptom - but feeling like a burning sensation. Almost as if you're bruised or sunburned on your chest and on your back."

Photo: Jacqueline Ramos-Pinto
A view from a Johannesburg Covid-19 Testing Centre

Unlike many other Covid-19 patients, Jacqueline explains that she never knowingly came in contact with someone with the disease, traveled and was very conscious of practicing good hygiene. 

She urges people not to get complacent when it comes to Covid-19 hygiene practices at home, or outside, adding that even though restrictions have been lifted, it hasn't eliminated the very real threat of contracting the disease. 

Currently, Jacqueline is staying with her family in isolation.

Jacqueline explains that as her grandmother is elderly and has a compromised immune system, she is recovering at a much slower rate. "Reminding myself that it wasn't intentional doesn't help ease the guilt," she says. Adding that she feels "depressed" - even though she knows that she took precautions to keep her grandmother safe. "But some days are better than others on an emotional level," she says. 

According to Jacqueline, her family has been a pillar of support and expresses the importance of having a support system while recovering from Covid-19.

She hopes that by speaking openly about her experience, she too can be a source of information, comfort and support to others. 

"People don't want to talk about it, as they are worried about the repercussions, especially me being a business owner. I was scared, too. I wondered: 'Will I lose revenue if people find out?'."

By addressing her diagnosis publicly, Jacqueline hopes to break the social stigma associated with Covid-19, and she reminds people to continue practicing social distancing, and good hygiene even as lockdown restrictions are lifted. 

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???????? ?? ????????’?? ???????????? ???????? ?????????? ??? Covid-19 didn’t hit me like I expected after having read so many articles about it. I was on the lookout for a dry cough or fever.? Instead, I developed sniffles, sneezing, body aches, a mild sore throat, night sweats and a terrible headache — sort of like the flu. It was mild until it wasn’t...suddenly, Flu on steroids. Even then I assumed I didn’t have Covid-19 because the symptoms didn’t match what I’d been reading about. After my granny fell ill and got tested positive, I got tested.? ? 2 days later...? Breathing became difficult, I experienced terrible chest pains, my skin on my chest and back felt like it was sunburnt or bruised. ? ? Although that has improved, i get out of breath really easily, sweeping my bedroom for example leaves me completely breathless and extremely tired. Still, I’m now relatively fine; lucky, even.? ? Here’s what I wasn’t prepared for:? ? ??The anxiety that came with getting tested. As I waited for the result of my test to come back, I wondered if I knew anyone who had Covid-19. I knew that If I had it, it meant that I had given it to my gran. Would she be okay? Was I careful enough? My thoughts turned to the elderly man that stood behind me in the Woolies queue the day before. Had I given it to him too? ? ? ??My granny, struggling to recover from a virus that I gave her. Reminding myself that it wasn’t intentional doesn’t help ease the guilt.? I felt depressed. How did this happen, my relatively high caution wasn’t enough to keep me or my loved ones from catching Covid-19.? ? ??I’d like to assume that everyone reading this is taking seriously all the Covid-19 precautions: being good about social distancing, washing your hands often, following the recommendations to stay home and not gather, even if it feels safe. If you aren’t, I beg you to start.? ? ??It’s not completely clear when or how I will be declared 100% well, when I can safely hug my family and friends, when I can be around them without a mask. A brilliant doctor I trust, who is working on Covid-19 cases, told me that although we are advised that it is 2 weeks...some patients retested after 18days were still covid positive.

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