COVID-19 Patient: It's Mentally Challenging to Spend 14 Days Locked in a Room, But I Pulled Through

© SputnikCovid-19 patient Parul Kalia
Covid-19 patient Parul Kalia - Sputnik International
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New Delhi (Sputnik): Of 15,711 positive cases in India, Chandigarh has reported only 23, even though it was one of the first places to record COVID-19 patients. With immediate contact tracing and testing, the situation in the city is under control with no fatalities.

Parul Kalia, a 26-year-old doctor in the Indian city of Chandigarh, returned from the coronavirus-hit United Kingdom on 18 March with mild symptoms such as cough, fever, and breathing problem. Being a health professional and a responsible citizen, she immediately went to the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research and was admitted into quarantine on 19 March.  

“My test results came in on 20 March. When I tested positive, it was a very scary moment. I was obviously scared but at the time I had to just carry on and monitor my symptoms,” Parul, who was the fifth positive case in the city, tells Sputnik.  

Parul was unfortunately in the category of people with severe symptoms. “On day 7 or 8, my symptoms became extreme. I had problem in breathing, stomach ache and diarrhea. I felt like there was extreme pressure on my chest. All my tests were done again, x-ray and ECG. But everything was okay. But I still kept checking my oxygen levels,” she says, while admitting that being a doctor herself helped her better cope with the disease.

Sharing her journey from going into quarantine and spending 14 days in isolation, Parul describes the process of recovery as extremely challenging, especially mentally.

She says: “I had my laptop with me in isolation but couldn’t watch anything. I was sleeping 16-18 hours a day but with all the body aches and fever, I just couldn't pass my time. I would call my parents and try to watch something but it was just not possible. However, I pulled through and am more hopeful now.”

Within 10 days, Parul tested negative for COVID-19 but wasn’t discharged because of the compulsory 14-day quarantine order. Due to Parul’s diligence in maintaining minimal contact when she first displayed the symptoms, she did not expose many people to the illness. Her primary contacts included her three family members, who were put in home quarantine as well following the negative test results.

Parul and her family also faced some stigma from society but they were largely lucky to have residents’ welfare association members, police and government officials who helped them through and even provided then with essential supplies.

Parul says that even days after testing negative she could still feel breathless at times and couldn’t walk very fast, describing it as post COVID-19 effect.

In a message to concerned people, Parul talks both as a doctor and a patient.  

“First of all, don't panic. It is a very contagious disease and can happen to anyone but always refer to credible sources. There is a lot of information on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram but not all of it is right. Go to official sites like World Health Organization and Government of India,” she explains.

People who have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart condition, asthma, smokers and those who take steroids are at higher risk but it is important for everyone to maintain social distancing and obey the lockdown, she says, adding that it is important to break the chain.

“As soon as you feel the symptoms, immediately call the central helpline and isolate yourself in your house. Do not take any medicine, not even hyroxychloroquine without a doctor’s prescription,” Parul advises.

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