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N.S. family of seven recovering from COVID-19 urges others to get vaccinated


A family of seven in Nova Scotia is sharing a cautionary tale about the importance of getting COVID-19 vaccines after all them became sick with the virus -- including the pregnant mother.

While running errands on Monday afternoon, Paul Baraka admitted he still doesn't feel 100 per cent, but far better than he did most of last month.

Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, he and his family arrived as refugees in Canada by way of Uganda four-and-a-half years ago.

Entirely at home in this country, things were going well in their lives -- until their youngest daughter, Esther, came home with COVID-19.

It wasn't long before everyone else had it, too.

"And when my wife was affected, I too, got that infection," said Baraka.

"And then, together, the whole household, they got the infection, the disease. COVID-19."

Although miserably sick with classic COVID-19 symptoms, the 42-year-old Paul fared better than his wife, Alphonsine Masika.

About six months pregnant, her condition deteriorated rapidly, and she wound up being rushed to hospital.

"Yeah, I was worrying, not only for the baby, but for me, myself," the 39-year-old told CTV News via Zoom from home in Halifax on Monday.

"I was worried, but God did it for me."

Masika wound up intubated and in critical condition for a time.

Experts have long said pregnancy increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19, something Nova Scotia's top doctor mentioned while urging everyone to get vaccines and flu shots during a provincial briefing on Oct. 19.

"Influenza and COVID infections significantly increase the risk of severe illness and complications, including possible death to both you and your baby," Dr. Robert Strang said at the time.

Grateful to friends, who set up a GoFundMe page to help cover expenses, everyone in the family is now on the road to recovery

Although only partially vaccinated when they got the virus, they're now urging everyone to get the shots.

"If, for example, my wife, if she didn't get the first dose, I could lose my wife," said Baraka.

"But because she already got her first vaccines, although she was affected, yes, but she was resistant."

With first-hand experience, Masika agrees with her husband.

"The people who are in the hospital, many people who are there with COVID are people who have not got the vaccine," she said.

Doctors have told the couple the baby appears to be fine, something for which they're also very grateful.

It's a boy, and he's due in mid-January, and they've decided he'll be named Joshua. Top Stories


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