Manitoba·Point of View

Winnipeg teacher says 'debt of love' owed to others kept her from becoming COVID-19 'superspreader'

Love "could be our most effective weapon in assessing how we respond to many situations, including this pandemic," says Winnipeg teacher Lucy Kaikai. "But we seem to have lost the attribute of love."

'In the hands of loving and wise people, the chain of transmission is broken,' says Lucy Kaikai

Lucy Kaikai was diagnosed with COVID-19 in September. 'My amazing family, neighbours, work colleagues and friends have been so kind as to provide us with ... our emotional and spiritual needs,' she says. (Submitted by Lucy Kaikai)

In the past few months, as we have all faced the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been accused of many things. 

Of being fearful, of being faithless and of being overreactive. 

Thankfully, I have not been accused of being hateful or lacking in love.

As a person of faith, when assessing my response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a biblical passage comes to mind often, from First Corinthians 13:13: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 

The whole of First Corinthians 13 is known as "the love chapter." It describes what love is and even what it is not. I invite you to read and reflect on it as we navigate these unstable times. 

This greatest attribute — love — could be our most effective weapon in assessing how we respond to many situations, including this pandemic. 

But we seem to have lost the attribute of love. 

Stopping the spread

We had all let our guard down and enjoyed the lovely Manitoba summer we were blessed with this year. 

However, there was a nagging feeling that I was not being cautious enough. 

My grandmother passed away five years ago, at 98, in Canada. She was orphaned at two, by the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which reached the west coast of Africa where they lived then. 

Had I gone to that party, I might have become the infamous 'superspreader.'- Lucy Kaikai

As September approached, I decided it was time to buckle down again. 

With kids heading back to school, common sense told me infections would rise, as they have for generations before and will do for generations to come. 

My son's birthday was the second week of September. He was very sad when I told him it was best not to have a party this year. Not even an outdoor one. 

On Sept. 6, I was invited to a party scheduled for the 10th, by a dear friend. I expressed concerns about the virus and she made plans to hold it outdoors to humour me. I told her I was still not sure, but would keep an eye on things and get back to her. 

Lucy Kaikai wears a protective mask to prevent spread of COVID 19: 'There is a lot you can to prevent the virus from getting to others,' she says. (Submitted by Lucy Kaikai)

On Sept. 8, my kids headed off to school, and I to work. We wore masks and practised hand hygiene. 

On the ninth, I told my friend I would not be coming to the party, as I thought it would be risky. She was very disappointed. 

On Sept.11, I woke up feeling sicker than I had been in many years. Immediately, I went in to see my doctor. After multiple tests and 10 days later, my COVID-19 test results came back positive. 

Over many days, I suffered from very high fevers, sore throat, muscle pain, extreme fatigue, sleepless nights and bothersome headaches. As that got better, I was hit with diarrhea and vomiting, which led to an emergency room visit. 

The headache lingered and my brain was foggy for many days. I have had to isolate in a two-bedroom apartment with my two children — fervently praying not to pass the virus on to them. 

Thankfully, my amazing family, neighbours, work colleagues and friends have been so kind as to provide us with lots of our physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

On Sept. 24, as I neared the end of my quarantine period, I got another invitation to another party. 

This served as my motivation for sharing my story. 

'A small bunch of people acting foolishly'

My mind went back to the party I would have attended — the very day before I fell violently ill. 

Had I gone to that party, I might have become the infamous "superspreader."

My actions those few days when I had been exposed to the virus, was incubating it, and showed no symptoms, were crucial in breaking the chain of transmission when it got to me. 

Had I been ignorant, foolish and hateful, I reckon over those few days, I would have directly exposed about 75 people and indirectly close to 1,000. 

As a Christian, I owe the debt of love to all. 

I have followed recommended guidelines — not to protect or save my own life but in consideration for the many vulnerable people around me. 

My advice is to avoid these people like they have the plague, for they just may. - Lucy Kaikai

Many people are not ignorant. Very few are hateful. 

But there's a small bunch of people acting foolishly. And their reckless behaviour in wanting to keep throwing parties during a pandemic is going to make this a long haul for all of us.

My advice is to avoid these people like they have the plague, for they just may. 

This virus only has power in the hands of ignorant, foolish and hateful people. In the hands of loving and wise people, the chain of transmission is broken. 

Thankfully, I have not passed the virus on to the members of my family and because I avoided social gatherings, I did not endanger the general public. 

You may not be able to stop the virus from getting to you, but there is a lot you can to prevent the virus from getting to others. 

I am so thankful to be able to say that when I got COVID-19, I did not pass it on. I broke the chain of transmission. You can do the same.


This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Lucy Kaikai is a parent and educator, who works at an independent faith-based school in Winnipeg.

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