COVID-19 and My Experience in Kerala : A Life in Quarantine
Ashish K Nainan
Breaking the Chain! I could see it across the board. In people who were managing the departure facility, the taxi booking counters. And I could also sense the warmth and empathy. Has to be Cochin Airport.
While I was getting ready to board my flight from Mumbai Airport, I had no sense of fear or whiff of how it could play out. Things went smoothly at the airport and the entire boarding process got completed faster than than the usual, it was at the last mile, when I realised, “This just got serious”. Air Asia crew handed me a shield, extra sanitizer and a wrap around gown (Not exactly PPE). They informed- I deserve it, since I was a middle-row passenger.
The flight wasn’t any different. But I could feel discomfort, both external and internal. I had families and individuals sitting around me, trying to reach homes, may be reaching out to unwell family members (similar to my case) or for that matter of fact, just travelling back to the state after having remained locked up for 2 months.
Once we landed, passengers went through a short process, which included sanitizer being made available through automatic dispensers. The other process included, taking off our protective gear and disposing it off in a large bin. Then the thermal scan, followed by documenting our state entry permit number, name and few other details.
The cab-ride back home was super fast, 100 miles in 2+ hours. The cab driver got me a cup of tea at one point, since he realized, I was human after all. Once I was home, since my parents were already in the hospital, it was not very different. Just that although empty, it was my home. I got my first call from the Collectorate Corona cell at 8 PM, 3 hours after my scheduled landing. They inquired if I was home and if I needed anything. I replied- Negative.
Next morning I got a series of call. Local Municipal body member, followed by local medical cell and was visited by local cop at my home, who stuck a sign post, indicating “Home Quarantine”, at my gate. He asked me to call him for any need including grocery, food etc. The first 7 days were easier, the same routine followed and although I was home alone I ensured limiting my movement in two rooms. I kept the kitchen and the other common facilities disinfected, cleaning them multiple times. The fact, that I could be a carrier and an imminent threat for my ailing father spooked me.
The State as always, continued to amaze me. A mental health counselor called me (Dr. Anju) once in 3/4 days. Akhil from the Municipal body called me everyday at 11. And finally the cop assured me that he was just a call away for any emergency. The health staff is situated in every village and municipal body, they would visit you just to check if I am home quarantined in essence. Not to forget, you have many more people reaching out including local MLA office and the district health officials.
The quarantine became painstakingly different. It plays out differently, when you have to limit yourself from your own family, especially when you have not met them for over 6 months. But the silver lining was I was getting my coffee/tea and food without having to prepare them. Some normalcy in terms of the luxuries of being at home. This went on for the entire 14 day period. Then day 14, an ambulance arrived at my door-step. A fairly large one. There were already 3 other people inside. I was asked to follow all the safety precautions of social distancing and carry a sanitizer and wear a mask. The testing procedure hardly took 30 mins including registration, a basic checkup followed by swab collection.
Day 15, 16 and finally 17 were a drag. I was now tired of waiting. But day 17, I am sent a home quarantine certificate, which mentions, I have successfully completed my quarantine and I am allowed the basic freedom of movement for essentials. In the evening, I am informed, my test result came negative, but have to continue to be careful for another 14 days.
It has been no less a feet to be confined to a couple of rooms, awaiting a result. It takes an entirely different toll on your mental and physical health. Even a slight rise in body temperature or a sudden bout of sneeze could scare you to another level.
I thank every health worker, every security personal including the ones at Mumbai and Cochin Airport. It would be inhuman at my part to say, “after all its a job”. The health workers and the entire Kerala Government Machinery amazes me. Yes, everything is possible in India. All it takes is the will and intent to do it.