Stories like Rafeek’s are not just inspirational but very important at a time every precaution has to be taken to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus. It is simple, as a story in The New York Times said, all you had to do is ‘stop travel, stop the virus from spreading around the world’.
But that didn’t work. On the afternoon of March 25 when this story is being written, coronavirus has travelled to 196 countries, according to worldometers.info – which is more or less the entire world.
So, when the whole world is not free from a virus that originated in a market in Wuhan in China, it is very vital that people follow Rafeek’s example and take extra care to isolate themselves to save themselves and others. Rafeek, a chef in Dubai, also posted a short video on TikTok, of playing with his daughter while he sits on the balcony of a house and the child stands on the terrace of another. To someone who asks him on a comment box, “why did you have to come home now?” Rafeek has a simple and touching answer. “Once the 14 days (of quarantine) are over, I can spend 45 days with my daughter, that’s why I came.”
In Telengana’s Kamareddy district, a 25 year old man who came from Dubai for his father’s funeral made sure he kept a distance from everyone and put himself in self quarantine. He tells TNM, “A medical officer and staff visited me and enquired about any health complaints. As I was found asymptomatic they directed me to be in home quarantine for a period of 14 days, which I have been sticking to since. Even during the funeral I stayed at a distance to watch the final rites of my father.”
One might recall the story of a man who landed in Kerala’s Kasaragod from Dubai some days earlier and had been entirely reckless in his behaviour, travelling far and wide and mixing with hundreds of others while he had to be in quarantine. He had later tested positive and been moved to an isolation ward and even then been uncooperative in sharing his whereabouts of the past few days with the health officials.
Read: Kerala’s COVID-19 nightmare: Patient attended 3 weddings, cradle ceremony and more
At a time when the health department has been burdened with a lot of work and negative energy has spread in the public, due to this man’s actions, we hear the story of another ‘Kasargodkaaran’, who went out of his way to make sure no single person, family or health official, got near him during quarantine. Dheeraj Paleri, a research scholar based in Guwahati, writes of this man who reached the Thiruvananthapuram airport from a Gulf country, because he didn’t get a flight to the airports closer to his home.
“Though he didn’t have any symptoms, he compelled the health officials in the airport to collect his throat swab as he was coming from an affected region. Then he called an ambulance which carried him all the way to the other end of the state without him getting down anywhere in between and paid Rs 18000 for the ride. Once he reached home, he refused to meet anybody and didn’t go inside. He started staying in the small shed outside which had a toilet and basic amenities. Didn’t let anybody come near him, cleaned and kept his own plate for food. When health officials came with masks, he asked them to keep away as he had already brought a medical kit! His swab came positive after two days and he moved to hospital quarantine for treatment without any burden to the people around him,” Dheeraj writes.
Another Facebook user, Dr Nelson Joseph, shares the story of a man in Malappuram who came from the United Arab Emirates and went directly to the hospital from the airport to test for coronavirus. Before going home he asked everyone to move out. Only once they did, he went home and stayed there quarantined, till two days later his test result came back positive and he got admitted at a government hospital. “The land should know about the people who care about the land. It will be an inspiration to others,” Dr Nelson writes.
Celebrities too have come out with short videos, messages talking about the importance of hygiene and social distancing in these times. South Indian actor-director Suhasini Mani Ratnam has been posting videos and pictures of her son Nandhan who had arrived from London and is in home quarantine. From inside a room, Nandhan tells people the precautions he and his family have taken. Suhasini says how he has put himself in quarantine even though he had showed no symptoms on reaching, and even she is a glass wall away from him as she records the video.
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Day 5 after his return from london
A post shared by Suhasini Hasan (@suhasinihasan) on
Mar 21, 2020 at 7:24pm PDT
In Kozhikode again, the route map of a person who had come from the UAE and tested positive for coronavirus shows the patient landed in the airport on the 13th, was in home quarantine for six days, and then moved to hospital isolation six days later, in an ambulance
On a call to TNM, George Ninan, a consultant based in Kochi, says how he has been in self quarantine since he got back from Kenya ten days ago. “At the airport I was asked to inform the nearest Primary Health Centre. When I did that, the doctor called to ask if I had any symptoms and assigned a nurse to follow up, which she did diligently on the days that followed. I have been staying completely inside the house, in contact with only my wife. Neither of us goes out for anything, even the essentials we need from the supermarket are ordered online,” he says.
These are but a few random stories from across states. So many others like them, perhaps little noticed or appreciated, would be doing everything in their limit to not put others at risk of the disease. And when everyone follows their examples, it becomes simple; you can stop the virus from spreading around.
(With inputs from Charan Teja)