Yes, I contracted COVID-19 and struggled with it for 27 days " seven at home, 13 in the hospital and a further seven in home isolation. And I can conclude that we must take it seriously, it's not just another flu.
Some people are very lucky, they get it like a lifestyle disease with just one or two days of fever and then everything is okay. And then as a result of such people putting up posts saying it was nothing, others get misled and drop their guard assuming that even if it happens, it would not be a big deal, but nothing can be further from the truth.
For a simple fact-check, please check the number of people being hospitalised, in ICUs, those not getting hospital beds and those dying everyday because of COVID-19. When I was entering the hospital lift for admission, a body bag emerged as the lift gates opened. This is also the reality of this coronavirus.
Even in places like Mumbai and Delhi, hospitals are so full that you can't get a bed for five or six days. Which means that for many people, COVID-19 leads to serious medical complications, majorly attacking and damaging the lungs.
And this second wave is more dangerous than the first. Comparatively, last year was much milder. As against a peak of around 2,750 cases a day in Mumbai last year, this year we are hitting peaks of close to 12,000 cases daily with many of them needing hospitalisation.
I'm sharing some of my learnings from COVID-19 below so that others can benefit from them:
Most of us assumed in October and November last year that COVID-19 had gone or reduced at least, and asked how long we could go on following all the precautions. Many people, including me, felt the need to return to our normal lives. This was a blunder because we dropped our guard; we started going to restaurants, malls, business meetings and the masks came off in those instances. That was disastrous because COVID-19 was still around and although you may take 100 precautions, one mistake is enough to get you infected.
So please take full and extra precautions, and do not remove your mask even during business meetings. It's best to avoid the formality of tea or lunch meetings. This is what did most people in this time.
Once symptoms appear
I had a slight fever and a slightly upset stomach, and reasoned that maybe I had a stomach infection. During these times, it's best to err on the side of caution and assume that all symptoms are linked to COVID-19. That is key. Getting tested and taking isolation measures immediately is equally critical.
Please be sure to use an oral thermometer and not the fancy contact-less infrared ones. In the beginning, I used the contact-less one and later realised that the reading was off by as much as 2 initial days I used contact less and later realised that the reading was off by as much as 2°C. That was a major error in my diagnosis and monitoring. Make sure to also get an oxymeter and regularly measure your oxygen levels.
Your regular GPs are not exactly equipped to handle COVID-19, I realised. My own GP wasted time. Although my doctor-friend from Delhi, Dr Himanshu Verma, constantly questioned why I had not been prescribed Fabiflu as that is the only medicine relevant for treatment, my GP kept insisting that I didn't need it. I had to even push him repeatedly to get a CT scan, which ultimately showed lung damage. Still the GP took it lightly.
If your symptoms like fever, cough and oxygen levels do not improve by the fourth day, my advice is to seek admission a hospital admission because they have the setup to handle an escalation. On around the seventh day, matters can get much worse. If you are in hospital already by then, it is far safer rather than trying to look for a hospital once you are already facing an emergency.
In the current scenario, please don't be choosy. Take admission at whichever hospital you can. The treatment protocol is pretty standard everywhere but timely admission is important than fussing about where to go. In my case, with good luck and the efforts of my wife and relatives, I was admitted to the Seven Hills COVID-19 Hospital.
This was a blessing as I experienced some of the best facilities and medical care, and was treated by very competent, compassionate and capable doctors. I would like to extend special thanks to Dr Hardik Shah, under whom I was admitted and the amazing attending doctors Dr Ashwini, Dr Nadeem and Dr Anjali. I couldn't have asked for more.
Many people tend to rush out into the world as soon as they test negative. This is incorrect as you still don't know how the virus behaves and the safety of others has to be ensured. In my case, the hospital recommended seven days of isolation at home post-discharge and I am currently undergoing that. Taking it easy, getting plenty of rest and doing plenty of breathing exercises is imperative so that damage to the lungs can quickly be cured.
But most importantly, ensure safety and precautions to avoid getting it in the first place. At present, health infrastructure has crumbled and because of your mistakes, health workers are struggling from day to day, and are unable to be with their loved ones. If they didn't put in these efforts, you would be doomed.
The author is a Mumbai-based private equity/venture capital and management professional. He is former director of the Times of India group's investment business, Brand Capital. This article first appeared on the author's LinkedIN page and has been reproduced above with minor edits for clarity.