Junaid Khan was shocked to learn that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
He developed symptoms on March 28 after returning to his hometown in Swat from Karachi, but had no foreign travel history. He also does not recall coming into contact with a Covid-19 positive person and, curiously enough, the relatives he lived with in Karachi tested negative.
When it was confirmed that he indeed had the virus, Khan was admitted to Saidu Teaching Hospital (STH) on March 30. Nine days later, on Wednesday, he became the first patient in Swat to have recovered from the coronavirus.
But the period he spent in isolation felt like an eternity to the 30-year-old, who was given a ceremonial farewell — complete with bouquets and photo op — by the hospital staff after being discharged.
“Although the medical staff, nurses and doctors took great care of me and other patients round the clock, the time with the new virus was strange. It was not only painful but also very tiresome for me,” he recalled while talking to media after being released from the High Dependency Unit at STH.
Khan, a resident of Swat's Odigram area, said he was initially mentally disturbed at the prospect of a crowded and dirty hospital ward, but after being admitted, he found the isolation ward to be clean and hygienic. “They provided me with very good care, food and medicines and I am very much satisfied with the service in the hospital,” he said.
Nonetheless, the time spent in isolation was "the most difficult" period of his life, Khan said, adding that his excitement knew no bounds after he was given the all-clear to be discharged.
STH Medical Superintendent Dr Naeem Awan confirmed that Khan had contracted Covid-19 in Karachi and fully recovered from the disease after nine days.
“Two days ago he tested negative after which we sent his sample for a second test which too came negative today,” he said.
Khan is now advising others in his community to observe social distancing if they want to avoid the distressing experience that he underwent.
Before going home, he stressed that everyone must follow the guidelines issued by the government in order to save themselves and others from the deadly virus, which has so far killed 18 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and infected 527.