Sunday 1 March 2020

‘I salute Kerala’: India’s first coronavirus patient after being cured

Pursuing her medical studies in China, she picked up the virus at its epicentre in Wuhan, but never lost hope and was sure of bouncing back.

India’s first patient diagnosed with the novel coronavirus says her respect for the medical profession has grown ever since she saw health professionals toil day and night to save her life.

Completely cured of the virus and discharged from the Thrissur medical college hospital three days ago, the 20-year old, third-year medical student, told HT in her first interview that she has resolved to pay back the state after completion of her studies by serving its people, who not only prayed for her long life but also worked hard for her recovery.

Perusing her medical studies in China, she picked up the virus at its epicenter in Wuhan, but never lost hope and was sure of bouncing back. Winning the battle against a deadly enemy has made her more resolute and positive.

“I am charged with positive energy now. I have seen people toil to save my life. I never felt I was alone at the isolation ward. Many prayed for me. My respect and passion for the medical profession has increased manifold now,” she said.

Recalling the incidents of the past month, she said she was lucky to have escaped China in time as soon as the lockdown began.

“On Jan 22, I managed to book a next day flight to Kolkata. But the authorities suspended all public transportations in Wuhan the same night and locked down the city. I, along with some of my friends, rushed to the railway station and managed to board the last train to reach the nearest airport,” she said.

She said she took all the necessary precautions while travelling and it never crossed her mind that she could end up infected.

“Two days after reaching home, I developed a slight fever and throat infection and I immediately alerted medical authorities who were keeping a tab on me and got myself admitted at the hospital. When I tested positive several times, I mentally prepared myself for all situations, this experience has made me stronger,” she said.

Once diagnosed positive, she was chiefly concerned about her family members and others, who she had come in contact within the preceding two weeks -- the estimated time for coronavirus symptoms to begin showing.

She said that she had spent 24 days at the isolation ward from Jan 27 to Feb 20, wearing protective gear, and her knowledge of medical science helped her battle her fears.

“If the virus affects a healthy person it will not be a big problem, but for those with compromised immunity, the virus will be life- threatening. The mortality rate for coronavirus is just 2 per cent and it may not spread alarmingly in our climate,” she said recalling how she reassured herself.

She was not unnerved by the isolation ward as she “knew it to be the best way” to prevent coronavirus from spreading. What really moved her, was the dedication of the medical staff and the care they took.

“Most of the medical staff and doctors didn’t go home. 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 Neethu Prabha boosted my confidence,” she recalls.

She also praised Kerala health minister K K Shailaja and the government’s work.

“She used to call me and my mother to give us strength. She often used to say that I was not alone and the whole state was behind me. The state government has done a stupendous job to prevent secondary infection. I really salute it,” she said.

She did not want to speak about the situation in China but admitted that there was panic and desperation. She will return there to complete her studies after the situation improves, she said.

HT has not revealed the identity of the patient due to privacy concerns.

(Source: HT)

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