When my COVID-19 test result came, it was negative, but I was sick

I have never doubted that COVID-19 is real. Long before a lockdown was announced for Accra and Kumasi, I stopped going to the office. I worked mostly from home. I would occasionally go to the office if I needed a break from home, or if I needed to pick an item I needed to work with at home.

I stayed away from large gatherings. Sadly, I couldn’t attend a number of funerals, naming and marriage ceremonies that I normally would. That was a difficult decision, but I wanted to avoid any possibility of contracting the virus, but more importantly, I didn’t want to be the one infecting others.

I have heard of stories of healthy and active people who got infected and died. I have spoken to friends in Ghana and elsewhere who have been infected and got well, but some have lost special people to the virus. I didn’t want to take any chances – especially, because I didn’t want to endanger the people closer to me. I also continued to take my daily dose of vitamin C and folic acid to boost my immune system and as a precaution.

The day started as a normal day. I started off with my usual activities early in the morning; and that included updating the news website I have dedicated myself to. But as the day moved on, I started feeling unwell. I began feeling uncomfortable and my appetite for food was declining.

That was on October 13. I began to feel feverish, some bitterness in my mouth and throat – at that point I knew something was wrong, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t experience all the standard symptoms associated with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). I didn’t have a cough, no sore throat, no whizzing, sneezing nor runny nose, just an intense fever, that left me with a burning sensation at the back of my head.

So, my initial suspicion was, I might be getting malaria. I quickly did an instant malaria test. The result wasn’t clear. But as a precaution, I asked to be given anti-malaria treatment. I got on the treatment. As I did, I felt a little better on the second day. But on the third day, my fever worsened. At some point the intensity of the fever left me feeling like some vermin was crawling on my skin. I wasn’t however knocked off my feet, I was still walking around and getting stuff done, while strictly adhering to COVID-19 protocols – wearing my facemask, washing my hands regularly and keeping a distance from people.

When I wasn’t getting any more better after concluding the malaria treatment, even though my condition wasn’t deteriorating and I still hadn’t experienced any of the classic COVID-19 symptoms, I reached a conclusion, that I must get a COVID-19 test done. So I went to the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Legon. My sample was taken. Three days later on October 19, the result came. It was negative.

The result read:

“Suspected COVID-19 specimen for NCOV-20-XXXXXX


Submitted on 19/10/2020 tested NEGATIVE for SARS-COV-2 virus.




But I still felt ill, mostly feverish and a funny taste in my mouth. That was also the point at which I began to notice some of the COVID-19 symptoms. After taking a bath and I began applying a deodorant spray, I realized I couldn’t smell the perfume. Unsure about it, I sprayed it in my palm. I still couldn’t smell it. Then I sprayed my favourite Boss cologne. I still couldn’t smell that too. That was when I started paying attention to my sense of smell and taste – and I realized for a fact that I have lost them. There was this acrid odour that smelt like mold or rotten dried flesh. The taste in my mouth, and particularly, my throat was mildly pungent and unpleasant like rotten vegetables under the heat of the sun.

I was put on some antibiotics for three days. I religiously took them, tried to drink a lot of water and take a lot more fruits like orange. I also tried to rest as much as I can. I continued taking the daily dose of vitamin C and folic acid.

My recovery came, but it was slow. I didn’t feel better instantly. It was a drag. The symptoms, the fever, loss of smell and taste, started receding gradually. It took about two weeks for me to start feeling well again, and regain my sense of smell and taste.

Grateful, that I didn’t have to be hospitalised, it’s still unclear how I got infected.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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