People suffering from Asthma have complained of being mistaken for coronavirus patients because of the occasional breathing difficulties they encounter.
Some of them, who spoke in Bauchi say they are also being stigmatised as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
They told the News Agency of Nigeria in Bauchi on Sunday that because ‘breathing difficulties’ is one of the important symptoms in determining a case of coronavirus prior to a medical test, they were being mistaken for COVID-19 patients, particularly in public places.
They said, for this reason, anytime they experienced an asthma attack in public, they were treated with scorn, sometimes with people fleeing from the scene.
They said since it was not possible under such circumstances to satisfactorily explain themselves, they faced enormous embarrassment.
An asthma patient, Mrs Hadiza Usman, said the most annoying aspect was that even some people in the neighbourhood, who were aware of their status as asthma patients, display such attitude.
“The phobia for coronavirus has reached the level that even people that know you become jittery whenever you experience an asthma attack.
“Sometimes, even relations are not comfortable; I know of somebody whose brothers contemplated calling NCDC to help determine whether it was the normal asthma attack or coronavirus,” she said.
Another patient, Mohammed Umar, said he had experienced stigmatisation twice while trying to withdraw money from a bank.
“We had queued up outside waiting for our turn to enter the banking hall when l had a mild attack.
“Knowing the implication, I excused myself and kept a distance, but when the attack subsided and I went back to the queue, nobody was willing to stay close to me.
“One of the customers even drew the attention of the bank’s security personnel, who approached me, yet even after explaining the situation, nobody was willing to take chances.”
Another patient, Umaru Galadima, said he had experienced such stigmatisation but said whoever was skeptical had a genuine reason to be suspicious.
“With the coronavirus pandemic moving like a bushfire, everybody must be careful. In any case, how do you differentiate difficulty in breaching occasioned by an asthma attack and one caused by coronavirus?
“I personally had cause to move away from a person that had a mild asthma attack, until I was convinced it was not a case of COVID-19,” he said.
On his part, Usman Haruna told NAN that he was no longer comfortable with the situation.
“Frankly speaking, sometimes I become scared when I experience an attack, and I always pray to God to let it be that it’s asthma attack and not coronavirus in disguise,” he said.
He advised asthma patients to be vigilant and be able to distinguish mild asthma attacks from symptoms of coronavirus.
The symptoms of Coronavirus, as outlined by medical experts, include difficulty in breathing, fever, cough, and runny nose, among others; while the major sign of asthma attack is difficulty in breathing, chest pain, and cough, among others.