"Being tested positive for the deadly coronavirus is the worst fear one could feel during this pandemic. But it doesn't mean it is the end of the world," a young COVID-19 survivor in Tamenglong said.
The dreaded Coronavirus instills fear in all. The entire world is now battling the one person fight against Coronavirus which began in Wuhan, China. Despite the safety measures and rules in place, the fear of the infection of the disease overrules all and the tough war against the unseen virus continues across the world. In this fear-driven world of today, a remote hilly district of Manipur in Northeast India is struggling with the fight against the virus. Many fear getting infected. Many more seem to fear getting tested for COVID-19. But need we fear so much? Several survivors of the disease have a powerful message to the world as they share their inspiring stories, experiences and the key to their survival in conversation with the Imphal Free Press.
The combat mode: Arm yourself with safety rules. Keep the distance from harm.
"Maintaining social distance and following the health guidelines is the key to combat the COVID-19 battle effectively," a 23-year-old COVID-19 survivor from Tamenglong town who returned from Delhi said.
Four times, the young man had undergone COVID-19 test and tested positive for COVID-19 twice. He fought a strong battle against the disease and has now recovered. His story is an inspiration to all during this pandemic.
Do not fear. Do not panic. Be optimistic. Be patient. Stick to the rules. Go hygienic.
"If you are an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient, you need not panic or be worried. Be optimistic, have patience and follow the SOPs. This disease is not something which can take away your breath. Coronavirus is a disease that can discipline oneself to inculcate the culture of a hygienic way of life. There is cent per cent hope for you to recover. I underwent COVID-19 test four times, tested positive for COVID-19 twice. If I can recover, why not you. It’s just a matter of time," he said.
Do not lose hope. Keep the faith. Maintain a good diet. Be faithful to instructions.
Telling COVID-19 patients not to lose hope, the survivor said an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient can recover sooner if he maintains his diet and follow instructions and recommendations of the medical team. "Be on a good diet, take medicines provided by the medical team religiously and follow their instructions faithfully," he said.
Have empathy. Avoid harassment, stigmatisation. Support each other from a distance. Together we can win.
"I spent 44 days of quarantine. In times like this, the best way to sail through is to be able to step into the shoes of those who are down and not just pass any comment. Despite limited manpower, the administration and the medical team had done a commendable job. Yes, there are loopholes which need to be accepted by them as well, and not just pointing out the lack of discipline among inmates in general, he said, urging against harassment or stigmatisation of any persons who are already undergoing mental stress due to the infection. "Together we can win," he added.
The other COVID-19 survivors pointed to the same key to survival - stick to safety rules amid the challenges.
Some faced the problem of lack of basic essentials such as drinking water though it is advised to keep drinking clean water regularly.
"My husband and I tested positive for COVID-19 and were shifted to Covid Care Centre at Tamenglong Higher Secondary School. The biggest challenge we faced was the lack of drinking water and fuel. But we (inmates) did what we had to do. We drew water (rainwater) from the water tank and boiled it for drinking," said one 28-year-old woman from Inem village who returned from Delhi by flight along with her husband and one-year-old daughter. She said they faced difficulties in arranging boiled water as no fuel was provided and they had to arrange it themselves.
"Our daughter tested negative for coronavirus, but we were worried and frightened that she might get infected from us. But twice her results came negative," she said, adding following the safety guidelines is the key to fight the virus.
One can survive without special treatment. Keep living by the COVID-19 rules
Asked what treatment was provided at the centre for the COVID-19 patients, the couple from Delhi said they didn't have to undergo any special treatment but they were told to practice steam inhalation and were provided immune system boosting vitamins and calcium. "As there is no guaranteed treatment for the virus, we practiced steam inhalation daily and took the medicines provided by the medical teams. We drank lots of hot water and stayed positively and maintained social distance. We were discharged after we were found COVID-19 free on RT PCR test," they said.
Good service at community quarantine centre helps to cope with the struggle.
"At the quarantine centre, our needs were taken care of by the volunteers, official in charges, and the women society who were responsible for our quarantine foods. Boiled drinking water - both hot and cold, were provided whenever we wanted," another COVID-19 male survivor, a returnee from Delhi who stayed at the the community quarantine centre at Pretty Lamb Institute, Tamenglong, said. He was shifted to a covid care facility when he was tested positive for the virus.
No doubt, the struggle is tougher at the Covid care centre compared to the stay at community quarantine centres.
The patients start to develop more severe symptoms and at times, they do not get enough food to satisfy their hunger, the COVID-19 survivor said.
"I had tested positive for the virus twice. During my stay at the Covid Care, I started to have insomnia and my appetite started to decrease despite taking vitamins provided by the medical team. And some inmates did not get sufficient food as it was like first come, first serve service," he said.
Another problem they faced was having to shift from one Covid care centre to another.
"Some of us faced inconveniences in shifting from Covid Care to another. When the district Covid Care Centre was shifted to Farmlane. Since we were COVID-19 positive, no one was there to help us in shifting our belongings," he added.
Another survivor of the disease suggested making the best use of the fresh leafy vegetables available in the hill district to supplement the shortage of food at covid care centres.
A 27-year-old returnee from Delhi who was under quarantine in a community centre faced alienation from his people when he recovered from the illness and returned to his village Kaikao in Tamenglong district.
"Even after completing my quarantine period of 14 days and tested negative for the virus, I was not allowed to enter my village by the village authority. I wanted to return to my village but I was told that I have to be quarantined for another 14 days at my village again," he said, adding, "The village authority taking precautionary measures is containing the spread of the virus and I respect that. We can overcome the pandemic only by strictly following the protocols".
The secret to survival is the same for all
A 19-year-old girl, another COVID-19 survivor from Tamenglong HQ, who returned from Gurgaon by train, reiterated the same secret to survival.
"I had no health issue when I was informed of being positive. While it could be mentally stressful and depressing for some to be COVID-19 positive, I was confident that maintaining social distancing and adhering to the given protocols will definitely help me recover from the infection. I followed the guidelines strictly and my second test result returned negative. In fact, I find myself healthier after completing my quarantine period," the girl added.
The stories of the COVID-19 survivors are the same. Testing positive for the Coronavirus does not mean the end of the world. One can fight it successfully with positive living. The dreaded disease need not kill. The key to survival is the same for most COVID-19 survivors. Follow social distancing and other safety measures and instructions given by the authorities concerned to overcome the illness.
It may be pointed out that all COVID-19 patients in Tamenglong district are asymptomatic, according to the health department. As of August 26, Tamenglong has reported 299 COVID-19 positive cases, including 51 active cases and 248 recovered cases. No COVID-19 related death has been reported from the district till date.