‘I Never Felt Mentally Isolated’: Kerala Coronavirus Survivor
‘You are isolated from the outside world, but never mentally,’ Kerala COVID-19 survivor shares his story.
The existence of coronavirus in India is a reality and the number of people affected by it will definitely shoot up. It's an eventuality. But so will those who recover. If one follows the world example, 81 percent of people infected with the virus will have mild symptoms and recover soon.
In the times of pandemic and panic, the story of a young medical student, among the first three cases to test positive in India, gives hope.
The 23-year-old medical student studying in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the new outbreak, landed in Kerala on 24 January, and the very next day he reported to the nearest public health centre. "It was my responsibility," he tells me in a phone interview from Allepey, Kerala.
As he displayed no symptoms, he was asked to maintain strict home quarantine till 30 January. As in most Indian families, his grandmother lived with his parents. Before his arrival itself, she was shifted to another relative's house.
"On 30 January, I reported to Allepey Medical College and I was shifted to an isolation ward." This happened shortly after the 1st Kerala case had tested positive, another medical student from Wuhan.
“They took my swabs and sent it for testing. We are only isolated form the outside world, not mentally. I didn’t show many symptoms. I eventually developed a mild fever, but it never went over 100 degree c.”Student who tested positive for COVID-19, Name with held on request
'Doctors, nurses, created a good bond'
Was he worried when he tested positive for COVID-19?
"Well yes, I was a bit worried. But being a medical student, I managed to calm myself," he says.
"People always have prejudices. I have come from Wuhan and it gets messy, but at the isolation ward, I had no issues. All medical doctors, nurses, medics, we all created a good bond. They took good care of me and provided me with everything, even the food was of my choice," he says.
Boredom in the age of digital connectivity and social connections was never an issue for the young man. He spoke with his friends, chatted on video, read books, scrolled through social media posts, kept in touch with the world outside.
Staying in isolation can be mentally taxing and exhausting. Did he worry?
“The department of health was very conscious about my physical and mental health. Health Minister KK Shailaja was in touch with me. She’s the pillar of post in this crisis, the backbone of our health services in Kerala.”
He stayed in quarantine for 28 days. It's a long time to be cut off. But family support can help you sail through, says the young medical student.
"My uncle was outside the isolation ward day and night. He kept in touch, encouraged me, kept me going."
The day he tested negative, he says he cannot express the joy he felt.
His parting shot is an important message for every Indian. It's about responsibility.
"I successfully finished my 28 day quarantine. Because of me no one else got infected, the cases didn't spread. It is our duty, our social and moral responsibility to maintain quarantine. We can certainly beat the pandemic, meanwhile our family, our society will remain safe," he says wisely.
He has no plans to abandon his "second home." He will return to Wuhan to complete his medical studies.
Kerala currently has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. But the state's handling of the crisis has come for high praise. They have tested more than their neighbouring states.
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