- India's first Coronavirus patient has fully recovered
- She says she regularly received calls from counselors
- The woman said she will return to China only after official permission
India's first coronavirus patient from Kerala - fully recovered after 39 days of isolation - has emerged stronger and more resilient after a long fight against the disease, which has killed over 3,000 people across the world, infected more than 90,000. "It was not easy to remain isolated for so long but the counselors regularly called me, paying attention to my mental health," says the 20-year-old - a third year-student at a state-run university in Wuhan city of China, epicentre of coronavirus outbreak.
"The moment I had tested positive (on January 30), I called all my friends who traveled with me and I asked them to get in touch with health officials. The health officials called up later to inform of their well-being," she recounts the overwhelming experience.
"Doctors and officials came to me and asked for all details - the flight I had boarded, my seat number, details about people who had traveled with me," she says.
The 20-year-old shares that she prepared herself mentally to fight the infection. "I had heard of people in China who had recovered from the infection and I knew I was physically doing fine. Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja called my mother and spoke to her, reassuring her," she says, while speaking to NDTV.
"It was just not easy to remain isolated for such a long period, even after returning home. But there were counselors who were regularly calling and speaking to me, paying attention to my mental health... that helped me a lot," the medical student adds, expressing gratitude for the support system that developed around her.
On January 13, when Wuhan university had closed for a four-week vacation, she hadn't anticipated the outbreak. "Everything seemed normal on the streets. By January 17, people on the streets were wearing masks and then the situation quickly worsened," she says.
"Our holiday was for only four weeks. In June, we have a longer holiday and I thought, considering the airfare, that I would go to India then," she recalls.
"But as the situation worsened, we booked tickets for January 23. We had to fly out from Kunning to Kolkata because flight services were already restricted. On January 22, we got information from our seniors that the airports are going to be shut. We immediately went to the airport to get a connecting flight to Kunning. Amid the delay, we took a train instead," the student from Thrissur adds.
Recalling stringent checks at every point, she adds: "At every point, there were checks in China. While exiting the university, our body temperatures were taken. Similarly at the airport, railway stations, similar procedures were followed," the survivor adds.
Around 20 Indian students, travelling together from Wuhan, reached Kolkata on January 23. Next day, some of them flew to Kerala.
"I had got a message from the Indian embassy in a group, asking us to get in touch with nearest health officials after returning to India. I informed our health centre of my arrival on January 25. I was getting calls everyday from the officials who were checking on me and things seemed normal. By January 27, I had developed an itch in my throat. I immediately informed them. They sent for an ambulance and admitted me to a general hospital. My mother accompanied me," the young woman remembers the start of her ordeal.
After she was admitted in the isolation room, her samples were sent for tests with those of four others. The results for others were negative. "But nothing was told to me. I started getting suspicious and by January 30, I came across reports that a Thrissur-based student has tested positive for coronavirus. Soon, a team of doctors and nurses came and met me. They spoke to me in detail," she explains.
After all the medical care, when India's first patient tested negative in one of the subsequent tests, she says was not informed about it. "I was only informed that I have recovered and tested negative for coronavirus after the second consecutive test result as a precautionary measure," she recalls.
On February 20, the woman was discharged but was told to be under home quarantine for 14 days.
Like many other students from Wuhan, she is not clear about her return to China. The university was supposed to have opened on February 15 after the four-week break.
"There are 65 students in our class, of which around 45 are Indians. All of us are attending classes online right now. It's a special provision, considering the impact of outbreak in China and beyond. We will return to Wuhan only once we have official sanction to do so," the student clarifies.
India has reported 28 coronavirus cases since its first. Of these, 25 cases were reported in the last three days, which includes 16 Italian tourists. All three patients from Kerala - including the 20-year-old - have recovered.
The novel coronavirus spreads through contact with droplets spread during coughing and sneezing, doctors say. Besides keeping contact to a minimum with an infected person, the preventive measures include frequent washing of hands and use of hand sanitisers. Fresh tissues should be used while sneezing and coughing and then discarded, to ensure the virus does not spread.