Abu Dhabi resident Nabeel Kuttykandiyil, had just found out that he tested positive for coronavirus two days before he learnt that his three-year-old daughter and wife had gotten the disease, too.
On May 16, Kuttykandiyil, who worked as a guest services agent in the aviation industry, got tested positive for COVID-19.
“I was not too surprised as I had some symptoms, and I worked with a lot of people who were leaving the country. My only concern was my family,” the 31-year-old said.
Kuttykandiyil lives with his family – his wife, Asalah Nabeel, 26, and daughters – three-year-old Niza Eshaal and one-year-old Inaaya Maleeka.
After he got the disease, his family had to get tested for the virus and to his dismay, his wife and elder daughter had already gotten it from him.
The couple was relieved that their youngest, Maleeka, did not have it.
“We were told that it might be because she has greater immunity as an infant, whatever the reason it was, we were relieved,” he said.
‘Support from the very first moment’
Although the family was “in a state of panic”, Kuttykandiyil recalled, the support the UAE authorities provided gave them much needed reassurance
“When my family had to get tested, the Department of Health Abu Dhabi arranged for a car to pick us and drop us to a Seha centre and back,” he said.
“The support we got from the [UAE] government really helped us feel positive,” he added.
“After their results came out, they called us and offered us stay at an isolation facility,” the Indian national said.
The family decided to stay at their apartment. But the support did not stop there.
“They [Department of Health Abu Dhabi] would call us regularly to ask us about our condition and symptoms,” he said.
Medical staff also counselled Kuttykandiyil over the phone.
“Despite showing minimum symptoms, in the first few days, we were very scared, but the doctors who would call us reassured us that we will get better,” he said.
Kuttykandiyil said that his daughter and he were mostly asymptomatic, whereas, Asalah had mild body pain and cough.
Three meals a day, laundry services
While the family self-isolated and spent time bonding, the Abu Dhabi authorities extended their help right at their doorstep.
“My wife and I would exercise every morning and spend time together. She was not completely fit, so I am glad meals were taken care of,” he said.
“We would get three meals a day delivered to us in the morning,” kuttykandiyil said.
The health authority also provided laundry services to them.
“Vans would pick our clothes up and clean them and bring them back,” he said.
‘Cannot thank them enough…’
“Learning that we’re in safe hands, even my family back home was relieved,” he said.
Kuttykandiyil and Asalah would regularly update their family in India about their condition on video calls.
“I even told my friends in India that the way the UAE government is helping us [expatriates] and spending on us, I am not sure I’d get the same treatment back home,” he said.
On June 8, the family tested negative for COVID-19 after multiple positive results. “We were so happy, and thankful,” he said.
However, soon after, Kuttykandiyil, lost his job because of the impact of coronavirus on the aviation industry.
Currently, Kuttykandiyil, who came to the UAE eight years ago for work, is on the hunt for a new job and trying to send his family back to India.
“I am glad that we saved money during the isolation period because of the UAE government’s support, I did not know that time that I would really need it soon after,” he said.