‘Never lost hope’: India’s first coronavirus patient

India’s first coronavirus patient, who was discharged from Kerala’s Thrissur Medical College Hospital on Thursday, has said she never expected to be infected when she left China in January. But once she was tested positive, she was confident about her recovery even as she was concerned about her family and others she had interacted with.

The 24-year-old said while leaving China, she never expected the pandemic to become so serious. She added when the situation deteriorated, she decided to leave China on her own. “My parents were worried. On January 22, I managed to get a ticket for Kolkata for the next day.”

But the same night, the Chinese authorities stopped all public transport in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, and put it under a lockdown. “I, along with some of my friends, rushed to the railway station the same night and managed to get into the last train to the nearest airport,” she said. She added she had taken enough precautions while travelling and that her college was closed for a week when she left.

“January is Chinese vacation time and we were planning to stay there to concentrate more on studies. But I had to leave along with six of my friends.”

Two days after reaching home in Kerala, she developed fever and throat infection. “I immediately alerted the medical authorities, who were monitoring me, and got myself admitted. When I tested positive, I was mentally prepared. And this experience made me stronger.”

The student spent 24 days at an isolation ward from January 27 to February 20. She added she knew that isolation was the best option. “If coronavirus affects a healthy person, it does not cause many problems. But for immuno-compromised, it can be life-threatening. The mortality rate in just 2% and in our climate, this might not spread.”

The student said most of the medical staff and doctors treating her stayed at the hospital to treat her. “Their dedication and concern really moved me. I was allowed to make calls and that eased some pressure. I finished some books also. Once or twice, I was emotionally down but health inspector, Sheebha, and my counsellor, Neeu Prabha, helped me immensely.”

She said she was in regular touch with her family members while she was in isolation. “Since internet connection was there, I was aware of what was happening outside.” She said her phone kept her busy and added when she was admitted to the hospital, she was aware she would be away for a long time. The student said killing time was a problem. “I used to get whatever food I asked for. There were no restrictions.”

She said the hospital staff was specially trained and very friendly. “When I was about to leave, they were the happiest lot.” She said she wants to serve the state’s people, who prayed for her recovery, after completing her studies.

The 24-year-old medical student said she never lost hope and was sure she will bounce back. She said she is now more resolute and positive. “I am charged with positive energy now. I never felt I was alone in the isolation ward. Many prayed for me. My respect for the medical profession has increased manifold now,” she said.

The 24-year-old praised Kerala health minister K K Shailaja, who would call her and her mother to give them strength. “She would tell me that you are not alone and the whole state is with you. The state government has done a stupendous job that really helped prevent infections. I really salute it.”

She said she did not want to speak about the situation she witnessed in China but admitted that there was panic and desperation around. “I do not want to trigger any more panic,” she said and added she will go to China after the situation improves to resume her studies. She said she was not scared when the WHO declared coronavirus a health emergency because she was aware of the nature of the disease. “In China also, a majority of the casualties involved physically weaker people.”

Source : Hindustan Times

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