'Don't fear Covid-19, get yourself tested': Hyderabad patient shares his recovery journey

Published April 14, 2020
Fawad Talpur at his home in Hyderabad. — Photo courtesy Umair Ali
Fawad Talpur at his home in Hyderabad. — Photo courtesy Umair Ali

"Don't get scared if you feel you have the coronavirus. Go and get yourself tested."

These are the words of advice that Fawad Talpur has to offer after recovering from Covid-19.

At his home in Sindh's Hyderabad — where 176 cases were reported up until April 14 — Talpur shared his long and arduous journey of suspecting he had the virus, getting himself tested, then getting treatment and finally, recovering from the disease.

Talpur suspected that he may have the illness when he returned to Pakistan after visiting his son in the United Kingdom in March.

"I didn't show any major symptoms of Covid-19 but I had a mild temperature and a travel history," the 44-year-old father of four and an agriculturist told Dawn.

"I arrived in Pakistan on March 16 and felt completely normal. I did not show symptoms over the next two to three days either."

However, soon after his arrival, Talpur received a call from the Hyderabad deputy commissioner, urging him to quarantine and self-isolate due to his recent travels.

"Later, someone from the Hyderabad district health office also contacted me, giving me the same advice. Over the next few days, I began to develop a fever."

The fever, coupled with his travel history and phone calls from officials urging him to stay indoors, had Talpur —a diabetic — panicking and ringing up a close acquaintance who is also a doctor.

"My friend tried to calm me down, assuring me that we will face the diagnosis together. However, he explained that we must initiate this process by informing local health authorities dealing with the outbreak."

Thus began Talpur's long journey for getting tested for Covid-19.

"First, I was examined by a team of local health officials. They were of the opinion that I did not have the coronavirus as I was only showing a mild fever," he recounts.

Chalking it up to be another viral infection, they prescribed Talpur Panadol and anti-allergic medicines for the fever.

"I didn't have any shortness of breath at that point but the idea that I may have been infected started to weigh heavy on my mind. Therefore, on March 22 I decided to take matters into my own hands and get myself tested at a private hospital."

Read: 'Painful and tiresome' — Swat's first recovered patient recalls encounter with Covid-19

But this was also a feat easier said than done.

At the private hospital, Talpur was told he would have to visit Liaquat University Hospital (LUH) where an isolation ward has been set up to deal with coronavirus patients in the area.

With some help from his doctor friend, Talpur approached LUH's focal person for Covid-19, Dr Naeem Memon, who advised him to visit the facility the following Monday.

On March 23 — as Sindh went into a lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the disease — Talpur made his way to LUH's isolation ward where he was tested and told to remain for the next 24 hours.

"I informed my family that I will need to stay at the hospital overnight and asked them to give me my diabetes medicine and some clothes. The next day, my samples — that were sent to a private laboratory for testing — came back positive."

After the positive test result, Talpur chose to have himself treated at a private hospital in Karachi where he was under treatment from March 25 to April 4.

"Prior to reaching the hospital, my fever kept oscillating between 101 and 102 degrees centigrade. But when I reached the hospital, it went up to 103."

Within a few days of being admitted, Talpur began showing signs of improvement.

"I asked to be tested again on March 29 as I was feeling better by then. However, that test also came back positive which demonstrated that I still needed medical attention," he said.

On April 3, Talpur was tested for the third time, the results of which came back negative and on the basis of which he was discharged from the private hospital in Karachi.

But escaping from the clutches of the disease would still prove to be a difficult task; the samples taken from Talpur — this was the fourth time — before he was discharged came back positive.

"I had returned home at that point, and the very next day I get a phone call telling me that my test results have come back positive again," he stated, the frustration clearly evident on his face.

At that point, doctors advised Talpur to self-isolate at his home and follow the necessary guidelines.

"I was told to use paper plates to have my meals and then burn the utensils," he said, adding that he followed all the instructions given to him meticulously.

Take a look: Most coronavirus patients recover — still, anxiety and fear loom

Finally on April 10, Talpur was tested yet again, the results of which came back negative.

"Since then, life has returned to normal and I am back to enjoying television," he said humorously.

"From what I have heard about other patients, it is my understanding that I had a very mild case of Covid-19," he said, adding that the only medication he was prescribed during his hospital stay was paracetamol.

"I didn't have a dry cough nor any breathing problems. I suppose I was lucky."

During this time, Talpur's youngest son, who is 15 years old, got infected and self-quarantined upon insistence of his mother. He made a full recovery like his father.

"He had hugged me at the airport when I had arrived. I'm pretty sure he got [the virus] from me."

Looking back on his experience with the coronavirus, Talpur has only a few words of wisdom for others.

"Don't get scared or frightened if you are showing symptoms, get yourself tested," he reiterated.

"Initially, I was petrified at the idea of having Covid-19. Lekin face tou karna tha, sab Allah per chorr diya [But I had to face it and so I left everything up to God].

"I had the prayers of my family and loved ones and today, I am alive and kicking."

Opinion

Editorial

Declining reserves
Updated 10 Dec, 2022

Declining reserves

Instead of challenging the IMF for telling us to put our house in order, we must take a hard look at our situation.
PM vindicated
10 Dec, 2022

PM vindicated

THAT the Mail on Sunday has retracted and issued an apology for allegations in a defamatory article against Shehbaz...
Human Rights Day
10 Dec, 2022

Human Rights Day

AS we mark World Human Rights Day today, Dec 10, it is worth asking whether much has changed over the year past....
Breaking the deadlock
09 Dec, 2022

Breaking the deadlock

It is time for PDM and PTI to show flexibility and realise that the future of over 240m people is at stake.
A targeted killing
09 Dec, 2022

A targeted killing

IF there were any doubts about a sinister, transnational plot to kill journalist Arshad Sharif, the 592-page report...
Dog-bite epidemic
09 Dec, 2022

Dog-bite epidemic

AN exploding population of stray canines has fuelled a dog-bite epidemic in Sindh, with the provincial health...