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Thursday Nov 05 2020

I tested positive for coronavirus. Here is my experience

It has been nearly a year since the first case of the coronavirus was detected in China’s Wuhan city. Yet, the deadly disease remains a mystery.

In Pakistan, where the virus peaked in May and June, but waned in August, the illness is back on the rise again this month. So far, 6,893 have died in the country due to COVID-19 and 330,000 people have been infected.

Meanwhile, vaccines across the world are still in the interim phase of development.

While we wait, Pakistan is again pleading with the public to follow health guidelines, such as wear face masks, and keep a distance of six feet. These are important rules to adhere to, but equally important is for those who have survived the infection to share their experiences in the media.

In my personal opinion, our breaking news should highlight more prominently those who have recovered from the virus. Why? Because sometimes people need hope.

Let me take this opportunity to share my own experience battling the coronavirus. I am still quarantined at home in Karachi. It has been 20 days since I tested positive, so the fight continues.

Read more: Pakistan education ministers decide to keep schools open

While my two daughters took great care of me, the hardest part was to be stranded at home, alone, when no one can visit you.

One lesson I would like to share with my readers is that if you are infected, do not let the virus overwhelm you. Even if your immune system is weak and even if you are over the age of 60 years, like me, you must try to distract yourself from the bad news.

During my quarantine days, I spent my time reading books, watching BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera English and off course happenings of our very own “mix, achar party.” After my body fever subsided, I resumed writing for the newspaper.

There were times, I will not lie, when the isolation felt like prison, a detention I wanted to escape. But what kept me grounded was the thought of my loved ones, who had to be protected from the virus. So I stayed home and kept myself occupied.

Read more: Pakistan's COVID-19 positivity nears 5%

This whole experience has been rather strange. I have never had a history of falling seriously ill. On most days, I wake up early, and have kept active through sports. Which is why when on October 12, I woke up with a fever of 100 degrees and a cough, I was a little concerned.

Two days later my doctor advised me to have myself tested for the coronavirus. The next morning when I woke up, I was shocked to hear that I had tested positive. My first concern was my loved ones. I did not want to infect them, so I immediately isolated myself.

While my fever rose and dropped, I was told by the doctor to keep checking my pulse and oxygen levels daily.

I miss going to the office and the press club. I miss sitting with my friends and talking about journalism and politics. But I have been lucky to have received well wishes from many friends, family members and those who have been infected with the virus.

Read more: Pakistan cannot afford another lockdown, says PM Imran Khan

So far, the coronavirus has not caused the kind of havoc in Pakistan, as it has in European countries, the United States and India. The government’s policy of a smart lockdown was the right decision, but to be honest I do feel that the strict lockdown in Sindh was also needed.

The responsibility to control this virus falls on all of us, collectively and individually. Holding public meetings and gathering during a pandemic is a risk. We, in Pakistan, are still not in the habit of following health guidelines.

The next two months are crucial for Pakistan as winter sets in. If there is one thing, we as a nation – including the government and the opposition – should agree to come together on, it would be this, this matter of public health.