'I was stigmatised and fired from work after losing my partner to Covid-19'

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Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
  • Suzanne recently lost her partner to Covid-19 despite having been careful to stay away from crowds during lockdown.
  • He seemed to be recovering in hospital but passed away suddenly after being moved from the ICU to a regular ward.
  • Despite testing negative for the virus, Suzanne was stigmatised at her workplace and is struggling to deal with the difficulty of the situation.
  • Suzanne shares her story.

My husband, Andre landed in South Africa on 5 March 2020 from Iraq, where he worked as a Close Protection Operator. We had separated but had worked things out and were in love again.

I knew that a few Italian clients were sent home after testing positive for Covid-19 and I was petrified when I picked him up at the airport. But when I heard about all the precautions taken at Johannesburg airport, I relaxed and we had a great time together.

We even managed to travel from PE to Plett for an insurance claim.

READ MORE: 'I tested positive for Covid-19 after a supermarket trip, I'd been indoors the entire lockdown'

Then lockdown came. All Andre wanted to do was dop and braai. He was on holiday after working months overseas and just wanted to relax, listen to music and have fun. We managed through Level 5 and 4.

Level 3 and dreadful June arrived with not only the cold winter but Covid-19 at our doorstep. Life, as it was, would never be the same again.

On a sunny winter day, we went fishing, and Andre caught a little blacktail. He also fell into the ice-cold sea at Mailtlands Beach while catching that fish.

We got home, and he immediately cleaned his fishing gear and we had a lovely braai. The next two hours were the last regular hours of our lives.

READ MORE: Covid-19: Here’s how risky normal daily activities are, according to doctors

Andre woke me up, gasping for air, as sick as a dog. After visiting our GP, he came back saying that he has a bad cold and probably is so ill because he fell into the icy seawater.

Hours later, he was back at the doctor, and I was called to take him to the hospital. The hospital helped, but said he is fine and could come home.We both got tested for Covid-19 as a precaution. We received his Covid-19 results, and he was positive, I was tested negative. 

We both went into isolation and the department of Health came to visit us daily. We still laughed through the illness and talked nonsense. But Andre frequently gasped for air, until one day it got so bad that I phoned the ambulance to fetch him.

READ MORE: 'I drank several bottles of wine a week but the alcohol ban forced me to question my habit'

He immediately received treatment and was admitted to the Covid-19 ICU unit. A week later, he was moved to the regular ward and all was okay. I was so relieved. I had no idea we were about to step into a real-life horror movie.

When Andre got to the regular ward, he also got his phone back and immediately phoned his loved ones. Unfortunately, the calls upset him so that within hours he was moved back to ICU.

I received a call from the attending doctor and he was very concerned about Andre's lungs. He warned that Andre should not strain himself by talking.

READ MORE: Now that we've all been washing our hands, here are 5 items you should be sanitising regularly too

Unbeknown to me, the night nurse was phoned and she permitted that Andre could take calls. He overstressed his lungs by talking and the next morning, I was told that there is no hope anymore for Andre was calling for me. He passed away hours later.  

Andre was 47 years young with no co-morbidities. Yes, he was overweight. I keep wondering where he picked up Covid-19? He only went to one shop and nowhere else - everyday of lockdown. I was never tested positive. I miss him, dearly.

READ MORE: This is how you should be washing your clothing and bedding in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic

For me, the stigma of him dying from Covid-19 has had far-reaching effects on my life. I was chased away and humiliated at my workplace, a negative result was demanded, and my Facebook hacked for evidence that I was Covid-19 positive.

Needless to say, no evidence was found as I never had a positive test. I'm trying to get my life together, but it is a rollercoaster.

I'm reeling with the loss, not only of a loved one but also the stigma attached to Covid-19.  May God help us all.

How has the pandemic affected you? Tell us here.

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Yes, it's important in order to create a family unit and for companionship
22% - 570 votes
Not at all. Being single is far more liberating
9% - 240 votes
There is no general answer to this, it's each to their own
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Yes, society still frowns on unmarried people, especially women
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It depends on whether you are able to find a compatible partner
18% - 463 votes