ONCE again coronavirus is spreading and yet everything is going on as if nothing is happening. Not many seem to be too bothered. I have lost many of my colleagues to this deadly virus, and many of my close relatives have passed through this ordeal.

Here I will like to share my personal experience about how one of my close relatives, despite taking all the precautions, fell prey to this disease; perhaps at his workplace.

We recently visited him at his place. He was alright. The next day he had diarrhoea and fever. He was given medicines, but there was no relief and his condition deteriorated. The PCR test was arranged somewhat reluctantly, and it came out to be positive.

He was immediately isolated and fear spread in the family as the gentleman is diabetic, hypersensitive and over 60 years of age.

Oxygen cylinder and pulse oximeter were arranged as pre-emptive measures, but when his oxygen level started to fall and the administration of oxygen at home was of no big help, he was immediately shifted to Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) hospital.

From there, he was shifted to the Sindh Infectious Diseases Hospital and Research Centre close to the Nipa roundabout in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, a little known state-of-the-art hospital run by Sindh government under DUHS.

Once there, the family had an endless rollercoaster of a ride featuring hope and despair. On the one hand, he was in hospital, while, on the other, those who had shared the roof with him were in fear of having been affected themselves by the virus.

Other family members kept praying for his health; every day his wife was briefed by the doctor and others waited patiently for some good news. But no good news was coming. He was put on high-flow oxygen therapy as he was suffering from double pneumonia.

One night his family received a call and was asked to immediately come to hospital. His wife and near ones rushed to the hospital, praying for his life.

At the hospital his wife was asked to sign a form granting permission to put him on ventilator, if necessary. This news was enough to send a chill down the spine of everyone as putting someone on ventilator is like saying all but goodbye to your dear one.

But luckily that necessity did not arise. However, he was shifted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

A whole month passed, with every new day bringing in its fold either hope or despair.

Things finally started improving and the quantity of oxygen was decreased, but just when the family was about to heave a sigh of relief, there came the bad news that some infection acquired at the ICU had affected his lungs.

It was timely controlled through antibiotics within a few days, and, finally, he was discharged from the hospital. He remains on oxygen therapy, is feeble, on bed at home and still months away from full recovery.

The nightmare has passed, but has left a scar that requires time to heal. We will do well to remember that many others like him have not been as lucky.

It will be rude not to say a word of appreciation for the services that were provided at the Sindh Infectious Diseases Hospital. Even though it was all free of cost, the care system functioned like clockwork.

On a larger scale, it is quite clear that the advice given by the government to the people has not been taken seriously.

There is an urgent need of some stringent measures to have the SOPs implemented in order to control the spread of this deadly virus.

Malik ul Quddoos

Karachi

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2021

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