On 3rd September 2020, one of my colleagues tested positive. Naturally, we, rest of the colleagues felt that we should also test ourselves as we have closely worked with the positively tested associate. We gave our swab samples on the evening of 3rd September, Thursday. Many including me had no symptoms whereas a couple of staff had some symptoms a week back but by that time had no symptoms.
We followed our normal work on Friday and Saturday. I addressed one webinar sponsored by RAMCO cement on ‘Challenges in Construction Sites’. Everything was as usual and routine. But on Sunday, 6th September, the test result came and I was Corona positive and had to be in self-isolation immediately. I was not only surprised but also shocked especially when I am aware that entire world finds it difficult to fight against Covid-19.
I immediately informed my wife that I was Corona positive and my bedroom became my isolation chamber. I also intimated to all my friends, relatives, and others regarding the test results. Then I called the government helpline 104 intimating them that ‘I am tested positive’ and asking what would be the next steps.
In fact, since Lockdown started, I never stayed at home. Being an Engineer, I first engaged in the building of Covid centers and subsequently got a pass to look after my projects and 700 odd laborers/workers who were stuck at the labor camps because of all India lockdown. After 20th April 2020, the Construction sector opened, and thus, I was always at site/projects irrespective of lockdown or no lockdown. I was always sincere in following the Covid prevention protocols such as social distancing, mask, and hand sanitization. That’s why I surprised why now I became Corona positive. But then I thought, it may be a blessing in disguise and I could take some rest and even I could write something interesting.
Then the tele-doctor contacted and asked me how I was feeling. I said I am normal and I had no symptoms. Then the doctor wondered and asked why I tested myself! According to him, people having some symptoms should be tested as any asymptomatic person could turn positive if testing is done on him. Further, he said that asymptomatic people don’t spread or rarely spread so the protocols are changed. There’s a chance of false-positive in the RT-PCR test. Finally, the doctor advised me to take vitamin-C, multi-vitamin only.
This made me confused as to whether I am really positive or a victim of false positive. In the next couple of days, the Municipality people came, pasted a poster in front of my flat, and advised my wife what to do and what not to. Getting all the feedback from Municipal people, my wife treated me as if I am a strange person and started observing all those protocols for dealing with a Corona positive staying in home isolation. The servant stopped coming to the house and literally, my wife, and my son were imprisoned in the house.
From that day, my frustration level hit high. I felt that I was unnecessarily quarantined. No symptom developed for another week. Thus, I went for another RT-PCR test on 11th September and found myself as Corona negative. I thought after being negative my quarantine should end. But Municipal people didn’t agree and explained that the guidelines say the quarantine will be for 17 days and that doesn’t speak about re-test. In fact, even after 17 days, the positive tested people are to be released without any test.
My frustration again increased as my further research on data said that Antigen tests give true positive but false-negative whereas RT-PCR test gives true negative but sometimes false positive. I was sure that my RT-PCR test in the first place was a false positive because experts say coronavirus stays in a patient’s body even up to 90 days after the cure. That’s why the guidelines say that when a corona positive becomes asymptomatic after 17 days (10 days at the hospital plus 7 days home quarantine or 17 days total home isolation), the quarantine ends without any testing because the RT-PCR test may show positive or false positive.
My experience with those two weeks of isolation was really frantic. I thought I could write something and took some rest too. But the thought that I might be a victim of false-positive made me felt like I was under house arrest. The followings are the lessons if others want to learn.
1) If you are asymptomatic, don’t go for a test even after you are by chance came in contact with a Covid positive patient. Better to make yourself isolated in your house and wait for someday if any symptom develops. If no symptom developed then join in your daily work.
2) Even if you have mild symptoms like fever, cough, etc, stay isolated in the house, Contact doctors through tele0counselling and take medicine. If the symptoms eliminated in three days’ time or even in 7 days’ time then you are ready to join your work. Here point to be noted that you must not have any co-morbidity.
3) In case you have chronic diseases and are aged 60 or more., then go for a test if you have symptoms.
4) A person without having any chronic disease if got symptoms and started experiencing loss of taste or smell, then immediately go for the test.
I concluded the above after discussing it with many doctor friends. And yes, Corona Virus although highly contaminating but like just another flue if you have no co-morbidity. Even if you are tested positive, don’t be fearful. It has a high recovery rate in India (or Indian atmosphere) with very low fatality. Even cancer patients at the age of 90 are recovered in India. Thus take care, observe all preventive measures/protocols, and if still got positive follow the doctor’s advice and stay positive.
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The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Please consult your treating physician for more details.