Coronavirus has strengthened my belief in the God and Indian healthcare system, says Rohit Dutta. It was the team of doctors, healthcare staff at Safdarjung hospital, wishes from friends & family that kept me comfortable in the quarantine, says he in this candid conversation with Arunima Singh.
As the reports suggest you were in Europe before you tested positive for corona?
Yes, I was on a work trip to Italy from 16th February to 20th February. Back then ,there were no reports of corona outbreak. Me and my two brothers-in-law would walk almost 25k steps every day in Europe. We left for Budapest on 21st morning and then flew back from Vienna to Delhi on 25th February.
So, What led you to get tested for coronavirus?
I felt mild cough and fever on 25Th February. I took paracetamol and slept. I saw the doctor next morning, who gave me medicines for the next three days, and asked me to come back. I was fine for the next few days. My son’s birthday was on February 28. To celebrate the occasion, I had kept a small get together of 11 people at Hyaat Delhi. Out of these 11 people, 5 were family members. Things went well. However, that night I again had fever. That’s when me and my family decided I should get tested for Covid-19 as by that time reports of corona positive cases in Italy has started getting discovered. I visited my doctor next morning, thinking it would be done on his reference. He guided me to RML hospital.
What was your experience at RML hospital, and later at Safdarjung?
There is a specific reception for people who want to get COVID -19 test done. One has to fill the form, mention symptoms, travel history to any covid-19 affected nations. Then, they took my swab ample, and after that asked me to stay back till the reports came as I had fever and a travel history to Italy. Next evening, they shifted me to Safdarjung Hospital’s Isolation Ward, as soon as they came to know that I tested positive. While I was still on my way, a team of healthcare professionals were at my home taking samples of my family members and giving them advisories which shows the preparedness of the government and health staff. Next morning, at Safdarjung Hospital, after I had my breakfast, visiting doctor told me that I tested positive, and assured me that I would recover soon. I was put on quarantine for the next fourteen days.
What was the guidelines and precautionary measures your family members were asked to take?
Since none of the family members tested positive, so they were asked to be in home isolation. They were asked not to venture out in public spaces. They were made comfortable at home. They were tested again, and were assured there is nothing to worry about.
What was a typical day in the isolation ward of Safdarjung hospital?
Every morning I would have my vitals checked, have my breakfast by 8 AM medicines administered. I was allowed to spend my time doing yoga. Read, have ha d video calling with friends and family members. It was like pressing a pause button on my hectic life.
My friends would send me Jain mantras, Gurbani and Quran verses. It’s love of family, friends and my trust in the doctors at Safdarjung Hospital that kept me strong. I have a new found respect for the doctors, nurses housekeeping staff there. They put their lives in line for us. There were moments of introspections and inclination towards spirituality as well. On Holi, I was feeling a little gloomy as I was away from family. Dr Harshwardhan called and asked my well-being. This was something unimaginable for a common man like me. He himself being a doctor had all the knowledge and understanding of the situation which is really commendable for a health minister.
Are there any guidelines or precautionary measures that you need to follow even after recovering from this infection?
Yes, I have been advised for home isolation for the next fourteen days. I have to take rest and follow the home quarantine advisory, issued by the ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
As one of the first few people who have fought and won the COVID -19 Battle, what would be your appeal to fellow Indians?
I neither got scared, nor took it lightly. It can happen to anyone. If you have symptoms, no need to get scared. Call the helpline. The health officials will do the rest. You will be tested, which is a painless process. No need to be worried about quarantine. Doctors, nurses and other health staff are well trained. They are highly professional. You will be much safer under their supervision than at home. No need to be stigmatized, and follow all the government advisories seriously. Maintaining social distancing at this stage in India is most important.