Young Covid-19 patients urge people to be more cautiousThe cavalier attitude many young people have towards Covid-19 may be because they see it less threatening for their age group. But such an outlook is dangerous for people around them, say recovered Covid-19 patients.
When SJ went to attend a meeting at his office on September 14, he had no clue that the meeting would go on to completely disrupt his normal life for the coming weeks.
Three days after the meeting, one of the persons who had attended the meeting called to inform SJ that he had tested positive for Covid-19 and suggested that he get tested too.
“It was a shocking piece of news, and a nurse I know suggested that I immediately isolate myself, and monitor myself for any symptoms,” said SJ, 24, whom the Post is not identifying to protect his privacy.
On the third night of isolation, SJ started running a fever.
“On the fourth day, on September 18, I went for a PCR test, and the report, which came two days later, showed I was Covid-19 positive,” he said.
SJ is one of the many young people in the country who have contracted Covid-19. But unlike many, people like SJ are coming forward and sharing their Covid-19 experiences hoping to urge youth to take the infection more seriously, to adopt caution and be responsible.
“I always knew that I have high chances of contracting Covid-19 because my job requires me to go out for meetings often,” said SJ. “But every time I did go out, I made sure that I maintain physical distance, wore a mask and sanitised my hands frequently.”
As the number of cases continued to rise in the country, in September, SJ readied an isolation room at the top floor of his house in case anyone in the family did contract Covid-19.
“Turns out I was destined to be the first one to use it,” he said. “I ended up spending 27 days in isolation.” SJ’s symptoms included high fever, muscle and joint pain, chest pain, dry cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
“First came the fever, which at times reached upto 103°F, and when the fever disappeared, it was followed by muscle and joint pain,” said SJ. “When the pain subsided, I started having severe chest pain, which lasted for several days. This was followed by a persistent dry cough. After more than a week of testing positive for Covid-19, I started feeling better. But I was still far from my usual physical condition. I couldn’t even climb a few stairs without having breathing difficulty.”
Throughout his isolation, SJ says he kept in touch with medical professionals who kept track of his symptoms and prescribed certain medications.
Keeping in touch with health professionals and heeding to their advice is key to recovery, said S, another 27-year-old who tested positive on August 30.
“The news was a shock to my system. My mind completely went blank when I first got the news. Perhaps it was because I never thought that I would contract Covid-19,” said S.
S was not the only one who got Covid-19 in her family. Five other members of her family tested positive along with her.
“On the day I tested positive, I lost my sense of taste and both my nasal passages got completely blocked,” said S, whom the Post is not identifying to protect her and her family’s privacy. “A day later, I completely lost olfactory sensation, which was followed by body pain. The worst part was the severe back pain, which lasted for five days.”
While in isolation, both SJ and S say that seeing people of their age post photos and videos of dining out in restaurants and socialising on social media platforms made the two realise how irresponsible it is to do so in a pandemic.
“I understand that people of my age like to go out and socialise with friends and have fun, and it’s important to do so,” said SJ. “But right now, we are living in the midst of a pandemic, and it is best to only go out if you absolutely have to.”
The cavalier attitude many young people have towards Covid-19, says S, stems from the fact that they are less likely to have less severe disease or die.
“While most young people are most likely to have mild symptoms or be asymptomatic, what many fail to take into consideration is that the infection is highly contagious and that they could infect elderlies and people with underlying health conditions, who are very likely to have severe symptoms or even die,” said S, who tested negative after remaining in isolation for 18 days. “There have been cases of young people infecting elderlies, who haven’t gone out in months out of fear of contracting Covid-19.”
According to her, many people who have been exposed to people who have contracted Covid-19 are not self isolating and are instead going out in public and meeting friends. “As soon as someone tests positive, it’s important that the person informs all those s/he has come in contact with, and it’s the responsibility of those exposed people to stay in isolation and get a PCR test done,” said S. “But I see a lot of people not doing those basic things, which increases the risk of infection to transmit.”
SJ too believes that if the country is to contain the virus, young people have an important role to play.
“We have to be more responsible. We have to wear masks diligently, wash hands frequently, maintain social distance, and most importantly, only go out until or unless it’s very important,” he said.
After recovering from Covid-19, both SJ and S say they have been sharing their experiences to people.
“I get several calls and messages on a daily basis from people who have contracted Covid-19. They are scared and worried. I share with them my experience and tell them my diet and exercise routine,” said S. “I have also stayed up late at night talking to those infected who are feeling anxious and have difficulty sleeping. We all have to realise that we are in this together and we need to help one another out in the best way we can.”
After testing negative of Covid-19, SJ says he started working into setting up two social media initiatives—Sherpa Covid-19 Response Group and Plasma Donors Nepal. Both initiatives, says SJ, will launch in a few days. “We have collaborated with 11 medical professionals for the Sherpa Covid-19 Response Group. These professionals will provide all the guidance that a Covid-19 positive person would need, from keeping track of symptoms and prescribing required medicines to suggesting diet and lifestyle changes, and helping patients who need hospitalisation find hospital beds,” said SJ. “With Nepal Plasma Group, the aim is to connect Covid-19 patients requiring plasma donation with donors.”
Young people, says S, also need to be aware that Covid-19 reacts differently with different people. “Medical professionals say that fever is one of the telltale signs of Covid-19, but I never had any fever. So until or unless you contact the infection, you never know what kind of symptoms you are likely to experience. Given that there’s so much we don’t know about the infection, it’s best to not take it lightly, not just for your own sake but for the sake of everyone around you.”
It’s important to remember, adds S, that young people might get away with mild symptoms but the person you infect might not.
“Of course we all want to go back to our lives before Covid-19, hang out with friends, go to restaurants, and socialise with people. We all dearly miss doing those things,” she said. “And once this pandemic gets over, we can get back to doing those things again. But for now, the responsible and wise thing to do is to stay at home as much as you can and if you have to go out, adopt all necessary precautions.”