Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

How a Pasifika family of 8 survived after contracting Covid-19

Havea family. Photo / Supplied

Pasifika Medical Association Group

When three members of the Havea family of Christchurch tested positive for Covid-19, they had to rely on their strong faith and their love for each other to get them through the challenging times.

Kilifi Havea, 42, his wife Seneti, 47, and their daughter Frances, 19, caught the contagious virus and were forced to quarantine themselves in the large family home they share with their five other children, whose ages range from 9 to 18.

“There was so much going on in my mind. It was a very hard time,” says Kilifi.

His wife contracted the virus while working as a senior carer at the Rosewood Rest Home in Christchurch, one of the worst clusters in the country. To date, 11 residents staying at the rest home have died from Covid-19.

Seneti tested positive at the beginning of April and soon after Kilifi and Frances also caught the virus. Once they were confirmed the rest of the family were immediately tested for the virus. Fortunately, their other five children were not infected, but it meant Kilifi, Seneti and Frances had to isolate themselves immediately from the illness.

The family trio had no pre-existing medical conditions and are fit and healthy, so this helped when they were forced to fight a virus like Covid-19. But Kilifi says it was still tough and was one of the hardest illnesses that he’s had to battle.

“I lost my balance and I couldn’t stand up. I was feeling cold and then hot. I had bad headaches and at times I couldn’t breathe. I could feel my energy fading and my body was aching. It was awful.”

He says a method that helped ease his suffering was pouring boiling water in a bucket with lemon and Panadol and breathing in the steam – a method he learned while treating colds in his homeland of Tonga.

He was also well-monitored by his GP and kept in regular communication so if his symptoms had gotten worse, his medical care would have been elevated quickly, and this was the same for his wife and daughter.

Since their diagnoses, Kilifi has been heralding calls from friends and church members for advice about how to cope when testing positive for Covid-19.

“When you get Covid-19, it’s a difficult time, but you need to stay strong, be brave and keep your faith in God. You also have to follow instructions from the Ministry of Health, like washing your hands and keeping a 2-metre distance from others.”

Seneti has recovered from Covid-19, and her recent test came back negative. Kilifi and Frances are feeling much better and are clearly on the road to recovery. They continue to be isolated from the rest of the family until they have been given the all clear.

Amanaki Misa, General Manager Etu Pasifika. Photo / Supplied

Throughout this period, the Havea family have been receiving medical and holistic support from Etu Pasifika in Christchurch, the largest Pasifika health provider in Canterbury.

General Manager and member of the Pasifika Medical Association, Amanaki Misa, says the clinic has been supporting nine individuals from three different Pasifika families who have contracted Covid-19. Three of those infected work at the Rosewood Rest Home.

“We’ve been in contact with the families on a daily basis and activated welfare packages to provide them with groceries as well as our medical advice. Our model revolves around family, so this holistic approach is very effective for our community,” says Amanaki.

He says the positive attitude from the Havea family during this time was fantastic, and they are role models for the rest of the Pacific community when faced with the Covid-19 virus.

“They wanted to make changes so they could get better and carry on with their lives. This confirmed to us that even though this was a huge hindrance and barrier, their attitude and outlook as a family was still positive and inspiring.”

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