COVID-19 Not End of World: Grandson of Cured Elderly Kerala Couple

Riju talks of how 9 of his family members, including his old grandparents, have recovered from COVID-19 in Kerala.

Published
COVID-19
4 min read
Meet Riju (from right-end), his parents and grandparents.
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For Riju, the last month has been about praying for the full recovery of his family members and fighting a cyber war with trolls. Nine members of his family, residing in Ranni in Pathanamthitta, Kerala, including his parents, grandparents, sister, brother-in-law and two cousins tested positive for COVID-19.

Today, all the nine family members have recovered – and some even discharged.

His sister’s child tested negative but was staying in the quarantine facility with the rest of the family.

On Tuesday, good news was delivered amid the bleakness of the coronavirus pandemic, that his grandparents, the oldest coronavirus patients in Kerala – 93-year-old Thomas and 88-year-old Mariyamma – made a full recovery.

Today, all the family members have recovered and some even discharged.

Riju told The Quint how Kerala has surpassed any state in the standard of medical aid provided, the sensitisation drives by the government to spread awareness and his response to all the criticism that has come in the way of his family.

‘Probably Picked Up Virus at the Airport’

Riju had moved to Italy with his parents after completing BSc in Radiology in Kerala.

“My grandfather loves me the most of all his seven grandchildren. He told me that he was getting old and wanted to see his favourite child, so he told me to come immediately,” he said.

On 29 Februrary, when Riju and his parents left Italy, they were screened at the airport there but weren’t checked at Kochi Airport. His sister’s family had come to receive them.

On 6 March, following directions, Riju, his parents and grandparents checked into Pathanamthitta General Hospital, and on 8 March, tested positive for COVID-19. Immediately, they called for Riju’s sister’s family and their two cousins who live next door to get tested as well.

The aged couple were then shifted to Kottayam Medical College Hospital as they were high-risk patients, given their age and underlying conditions like diabetes, urinary infection and hypertension.

Thomas had even endured a heart attack during the treatment.

“At one point of time, they were in a very critical condition. Through the special treatment at the Kottayam Medical College Hospital, we could bring them back to life from the brink of death.”
Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja in a Facebook post

“Thomas had chest pain from the beginning. As there were chances of heart disease, they were shifted to VIP rooms in the ICU. They were made to stay in different rooms, which they seemed disappointed by. Later, we shifted them to the transplant ICU where they could see each other. Thomas was shifted to ventilator support in between as his condition deteriorated,” read the post.

The Troll War

Soon after the news broke out, a number of people took to social media to condemn the family for deliberately evading screening – and thus spreading the virus.

Riju has a question for all these trolls:

“When I first landed, I ran to carry my sister’s little baby. If we knew we were infected and deliberately wanted to spread the virus, then would I infect my own family? Carry our own child? And coming to see our aged grandparents? And did you know my father has even had two heart attacks.”

“That child loves my parents the most and loves me, her uncle so much. Would I do that?” he asked.

Nurse Who Treated Them Has Tested Positive

25 nurses and 40 other healthcare staff helped treat the aged couple.

“Sometimes, they were adamant and refused food, demanding to go home. Though at times they did not cooperate with the nurses, the staff were patient enough to convince the aged couple. The nurses gave them a lot of love,” the health minister said.

However, the health minister revealed that a nurse who took care of the couple, has now tested positive for COVID-19.

The minister also complimented doctors Jose Joseph, TK Jayakumar, Rajesh, RP Renjin, Lijo, Harikrishnan, Sajith Kumar, Anuraj and nursing officer Indira.

‘Follow the Kerala Model of Healthcare’

Riju is all praise for the Kerala Health Department for the medical care it provided – from curated meals to loving nurses and doctors who became family.

His entire family has one lesson to share – “coronavirus is not the end of the world”.

“People need not be scared. If you listen to the advice given by doctors, nurses and medical professionals, then we don’t need to worry, When we were first admitted, we thought we were on a path to death. It was scary. But after complete medical support and several counselling sessions, we gathered the confidence that we shall overcome this too.”
Riju

He said regular counselling sessions were held by the medical staff and they were constantly reassured that this can be dealt with just like another viral fever.

“Every state should follow the Kerala model of medicine. And yes stay at home,” he added.

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