Dubai: At a time when news about COVID-19 revolves round the rising number of cases - and deaths - all over the world, the story of six recoveries at a Dubai Hospital this week has come as a breath of fresh air.
The six expatriates – five Indians and one French national – were discharged from the private International Modern Hospital within 10 days of admission after they passed three consecutive negative tests for COVID-19. They are currently under a 14-day quarantine.
What is interesting is that at least two of them were asymptomatic and four had milder symptoms, but the recovery in all cases was rapid.
Five of the recovered patients spoke exclusively to Gulf News about their journey in the last 10 days. Here is their account:
Christophe Antequera, 54, French
“I am relieved now and during my 14-day quarantine, I continue to work from home,” said Christophe Antequera.
A fashion retailer from the Dubai Design Distict, he hails from the picturesque Aix-en-Provence town in Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur, France, where he had travelled to in the first week of March and tested positive for Covid-19 20 days later.
“I was feeling more fatigued than usual and upon a check up, I found I was running a slight fever and had a very mild cough. Taking no chances, I went to the nearest Dubai Health Authority centre on March 22 and gave my nasal swab.”
Antequerra, who is a bachelor and lives alone, turned out positive for the virus. “But I had already isolated myself from the time I felt feverish and if I went out to buy groceries it was with a mask and gloves. On March 29, I was taken in an ambulance to the hospital. I was very stressed about having passed on the infection to anyone else. But thank God, my friend who had met me after my arrival, tested negative. I had been working from home anyway, so did not pass on the infection to my office colleagues.”
At the International Modern Hospital, Antequerra was placed in isolation and since given a combination of antibiotics and paracetamol. He is also a patient of hypertension. “I wasn’t scared because I felt I was in safe hands. In fact, I got to understand how to manage my hypertension better. I felt quite tired and sick on the third or fourth day after admission but it got progressively better after that. I subsequently tested negative three times consecutively with each teast set 24 hours apart. The hospital then decided to discharge me. Now I continue with my 14- day quarantine, have informed my mother and sisters and feeling absolutely normal. I would like to advise people, if they feel sick and tired, they must go in for a test to clear their doubts. For others, it is best to stay at home and break the chain of infection.”
Riaz Ummari,46, Indian
The Indian national from Calicut district in Kerala said: “I did not let my wife and three children in Calicut know I was COVID-19 positive and am glad to be out of this now.”
Ummari recounted: “We were 15 people working at different branches of a textile shop . The place has a heavy influx of international tourists. After one of my colleagues tested positive, we all were asked to undergo the nasal swab test and nine of us tested positive.”
Ummari’s test report came in on March 22 and he was admitted to the hospital on March 28. “I was not scared after my report came positive. By God’s grace, my constitution is strong and I was largely asymptomatic. I had a slight cough and headache and was given a cough syrup and antibiotics. After three swab tests that came negative, I was discharged on April 6 and have moved to a hotel room to maintain a strict quarantine. I hope to be back at work after that and want to encourage others to seek treatment if they are sick.”
Rashid Pillakoi, 31, Indian
Rashid Pillakoi hails from Kannur in India’s Kerala. He developed a fever and backpain just for day. ”I had not travelled and had no idea if I had come in contact with someone who was struck by coronavirus. But with so much being said about the illness (and working in an area that had reported some cases), I went to Rashid Hospital on March 18 and took a test. I got my reports in a week. I was admitted in isolation at IMH and was faring well.
I was largely asymptomatic and my nasal swab tests on March 29, April 1 and April 3 came negative. I was discharged on April 6. I have checked into a furnished apartment hotel and am strictly observing the 14-day quarantine. My food is delivered to me at my doorstep without any contact with anyone. I am doing well.” Meanwhile, he said his fiancee has also tested positive.
“My fiancée who is still in hospital, but is recovering. I hope and wish that others recover with the speed I did.”
Muhammad Saeed, 36, Indian
Also from Kannur district in Kerala, Dubai-based Muhammad Saeed said: “One of my roomates who flew to Indi, tested positive there. I was convinced that the six of us who shared the space would have to undergo the COVID-19 test.”
“Most of these men were on visit visa. So before the flights were suspended, they flew out. One of them who returned to Kerala had to be admitted to hospital. Two others who flew back also tested positive. By March 22, the rest of us got tested and except one, all of us tested positive. We were admitted to the hospital by March 29,” he recounted.
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Fortunately for Saeed, his symptoms did not get worse and in isolation he did well with antibiotics, IV fluids, antibiotics, cough syrup and paracetamols. Saeed who has resigned from his job and is observing the quarantine at his room, said: “I hardly have any cash, have cancelled my visa and am looking forward to going home once the quarantine is over. The hospital will check me again on April 20 and once that is clear, I can go home. I hope flight restrictions are lifted by then.”
Nabil Yesu, 29, Indian
This Indian national from Thiruvanthpuram in Kerala works as a sales supervisor with a multinational in Al Nahda, Sharjah. He said he contracted the virus from his brother. “My younger brother who also works as a salesman in a multinational had fever and I had accompanied him to hospital for treatment. His nasal swb was taken and after his results came in positive, I too went for a test. He was home quarantined for some time and later shifted to a hospital in Sharjah, My wife and son thankfully have tested negative, I sought admission at IMH where my wife works as a nurse.’
Yesu was admitted on March 30 and stayed in hospital for six days. “I had any no symptoms other than a dry cough. When three consecutive tests reports came out negative, I was discharged on April 6.”
Yesu has moved into a hotel accomdation for a 14-day quarantine. His home has been cleaned and sanitised, he added.
Dr Anil Grover, Medical Director of the International Modern Hospital and head of the COVID-19 task force at the hospital, told Gulf News: “We followed the treatment protocol issued by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) which is in line with the international protocols issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). As per the guidelines, patients are classified into asymptomatic, mild, moderate and severe. For critically ill paients, we have ample ICU facilities and isolation rooms.Usually a period of seven-14 days is required for recovery and after pateients test negative for the virus in three consecutive tests, we discahrge them but they have to follow an additional 14-day quarantine.”