A crown of care during Covid
It was a most unexpected – and dismaying – discovery. Six days after I arrived in India, I tested covid positive. As a member of a family of doctors, I felt less unnerved than inconvenienced. After all, I had come to India to help my aged parents after my father suffered a stroke, and now here I was about to go into isolation.
My only symptom was an infrequent dry cough that morphed into what sounded like a chesty cough, but wasn’t. I had no fever, no congestion, no body ache, no other symptoms. My viral load, the test revealed, was low. But I was less impressed by that than by the fact that my test results had come in the same day.
Early the next morning, at 9 am, a gentleman arrived at our door, looking for me by name. He said, ‘Madam you have tested positive for Covid and I need some details.’ He filled a document with my answers to his questions, asked about other family members and enquired if there was space in the house where I could isolate for 10 days, complete with a separate bathroom. Then he handed me a small box from the Uttarakhand government’s corona team, and I learnt his name was Mr Sharma.
The kit contained a thermometer, an oxymeter, five days’ doses of Arithromycin, 10 tablets of paracetamol, three tablets of Ivermectin and 10 capsules of vitamin C, complete with detailed and precise instructions of when and how to consume them. There were also 10 masks in the kit and I was given a yellow bag labelled ‘Bio Hazardous Waste’ into which I was meant to dispose of my masks, used toilet tissues and so on. Mr Sharma then took a picture of me holding the kit as proof that it has been delivered.
As the daughter and sister of doctors, I didn’t really need Mr Sharma to explain everything to me. I didn’t even need the kit because I have access to medicines. But it was heartwarming to know that everyone in Uttarakhand is given medicines and guidance if they need to be isolated.
Every morning, Mr Sharma called me at 10 am to check on the state of my health. I had to give him my temperature and oxymeter readings. Every second day, a lady doctor phoned to enquire about any symptoms that may have manifested, whether I had breathing difficulties and so on. On the ninth day of my isolation, a small team of two lady doctors and Mr Sharma arrived to check on me in person and see if I needed any medication or oxygen. They advised me to test again after four days and so 14 days after I tested positive for the coronavirus, I tested negative and they all called to congratulate me on my recovery.
I was surprised and delighted that the Uttarakhand government had been so hands-on in the execution of its corona management: dispensing medicines free of cost, sharing information and knowledge and constantly monitoring the patients and the situation. It was incredible that someone called every day to enquire about the patient’s health: this meant that the patient could be guided to become aware of her or his evolving symptoms and understand what to do. I was told that if a patient showed severe symptoms, then she or he was evacuated to a facility with oxygen – free of cost.
The way the government in Uttarakhand is handling the pandemic reminds me of a muhawara (saying). Here’s my version of it: “Sukh mein sumiran sab kare, dukh me kare na koi, jo government dukh me sumiran kare, woh government meri hoye.”
Isolation was quite demoralising. You feel trapped, as though you’re in prison. But it’s over now and hopefully, I have some antibodies instead of corona bodies.
From HT Brunch, March 7, 2021
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