By Albert Masaka
UNITED KINGDOM-BASED gospel music minister Rhoda Tongogora, popularly known as Mai Tongogara, has exclusively opened up to Standard Style how she contracted and overcame the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), which is wreaking havoc across the globe.
The deadly disease has so far claimed the lives of two Zimbabweans — broadcaster and businessman Zororo Makamba and Mellisa Jackquiline Mandaza, a student at Andrews University in the United States.
The UK, where Mai Tongogara and her family have been based since 2003, has not been spared and as of Friday, 33 718 people had contracted the virus, while 2 921 had died.
Speaking from her base in the UK, Mai Tongogara said she had overcome the virus, giving hope and advice to the rest of the world about how to cope with the pressures and fears associated with the scourge.
“It all began on Wednesday last week [March 26] soon after my daily jog with my daughter. I just started coughing, it was like a joke and the following day the cough got worse,” Mai Tongogara said.
“On Thursday morning I was struggling to breathe, so I woke up and called 111 [Covid-19 toll-free number], I could not call 999 [medical emergency number] because it did not look like an emergency.
“I described my symptoms to them and they advised that I isolate myself for seven days and everybody else in the house for the next 14 days.”
She said she was isolated from her husband in the bedroom and the children would bring them food, which they would leave outside the bedroom door.
“It was hard, because we have a three-year-old child and for him to understand that I have to stay away from mummy… it’s just not easy, but at the same time while they said my symptoms were mild, it was painful,” she said.
“So I managed to overcome the virus at home by drinking warm fluids… just drinking hot soups and other hot stuff and also taking paracetamol because I had a fever and headache.”
She encouraged people to stay safe when they have symptoms.
“Isolate yourself so that you don’t spread to others,” she said.
“On Mother’s Day I could not visit my mum, it was a difficult thing. And my sister had a birthday I could not go because she is pregnant, it was really hard.”
“It’s a tough period for the country, for families and for everyone else.”
Mai Tongogara, who is a sister of gospel musician Bethen Pasinawako-Ngolomi, has two albums Muranda Washe and Ndisimbisewo, which features Mathias Mhere and Obert Mazivisa.
She grew up in Goromonzi before relocating to the United Kingdom 17 years ago.