By AFP |
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 was 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 corona 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.