A young Melbourne woman is speaking out as her dad continues to fight for his life in hospital almost five weeks after being diagnosed with Covid.
Zain Tiba, a father of five, fell ill in early September after developing a tickle in his throat, his 24-year-old daughter, Ella Zain, told Yahoo News Australia on Thursday.
The 45-year-old was diligent about getting tested and received two negative results before a third swab confirmed he was positive for Covid. He was admitted to hospital on September 9.
“He got really sick pretty quickly,” Ms Zain said, adding her entire family ended up catching the virus.
The 24-year-old and her mum were also hospitalised, but had since returned home and were recovering.
However, not long after being admitted, Mr Tiba’s health “deteriorated” fast and doctors told the family his lungs were failing. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Ms Zain said her dad was placed in a coma during his first week in the intensive care unit (ICU) and had been hooked up to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine – which helps pump oxygen to the heart and lungs — for 24 days.
The 45-year-old was also on dialysis for kidney failure, she said.
Doctors have told the family Mr Tiba is in a “critically stable condition”, but they are now left anxiously waiting and hoping for him to wake up.
“We video call him every day but he’s unconscious,” Ms Zain, who said her dad was previously very healthy, told Yahoo News Australia.
“We try to talk to him and hope he can hear us.”
Daughter's warning about Covid vaccine misinformation
Although Mr Tiba fell ill before Victoria ramped up its Covid vaccine rollout, Ms Zain said her dad had fallen victim to misinformation about the jab online.
The 24-year-old insisted he wasn’t an anti-vaxxer or conspiracy theorist, but had said he “wanted to wait and see”.
“He was a bit hesitant about the vaccine — not that he was never going to get it but he wanted to wait it out a bit to see how safe it is,” she said.
Ms Zain said a lot of people in the Muslim community were in the same position after being subjected to misinformation about Covid and the vaccine on social media.
She said some anti-vaxxer videos featured people posing as trusted doctors and nurses.
The 24-year-old also attributed confusion about the vaccine in the Muslim community to a lack of resources in their language.
She said some people whose first language was not English have had a hard time learning about how the benefits of the vaccine could outweigh the risks.
“It plays a big role in scaring people,” she said.
Muslim leaders in Australia have previously spoken out about how the community has been targeted with misinformation.
“We are really tight knit and so heavily reliant on social media for everyone to keep in touch with each other,” Ms Zain said.
“Conspiracy theorists are using that to their advantage to target people.”
The 24-year-old is using her family’s tragic experience to encourage others to only rely on credible sources for information about the jab.
She said she knew her dad would not be in the condition he was now if he had been vaccinated, adding the rest of the family had since had the shot.
“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions but make sure you’re at least getting your information from credible sources before you’re making those decisions," Ms Zain said.
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