‘Conditions of Bihar Isolation Ward Made My COVID Journey Tougher’

The state’s health infrastructure is overburdened.

Updated31 Jul 2020, 08:08 AM IST
My Report
4 min read

They say when life throws you a curve ball, it happens for a reason. One of those life-changing experiences for me was contracting COVID-19. I did not think it could ever happen to me, but the fact of the matter is – You never know.

The coronavirus pandemic is one which no one anticipated or prepared for. I tested positive on 5 July after showing symptoms like headache, dry cough, fever and fatigue. I got my test done timely, which is why my infection didn’t get worse. It did not reach my lungs and luckily, I had no breathing difficulties either.

More than these symptoms, it was the experience at my isolation ward in Khagaria, Bihar that made the road to recovery rocky.

The lack of smell followed by a continuous pungent odour in my nasal tract was one of the worst side-effects. I developed a retching sensation because of this and was perpetually uncomfortable till about 12 days.

The virus not only hampers your health and mobility but also disrupts your personal and professional life. The mental anxiety caused by coronavirus is more pernicious than the virus itself.

The Poor State of Healthcare

We frequently hear about Bihar government’s failure in healthcare and contracting the virus gave me an opportunity to witness the loopholes firsthand.

Bihar’s healthcare system has been unprofessional and callous. The only person I saw wearing a PPE kit was the lab professional who collected my swab sample. Even the doctors handling more than 50 coronavirus patients in my isolation centre did not feel the need to wear a PPE kit or a face shield. Usually, the problems faced by doctors are exacerbated by a ruthless hospital administration.

State of bathrooms in the ward.
State of bathrooms in the ward.
(Photo Courtesy: Ayush Anand) 

Cleanliness and hygiene should be the utmost priority in handling COVID-19 cases, but in the ward I was admitted, it seemed to be completely neglected. Stinking toilets and basin areas are a few of the many unhygienic conditions we had to adjust to.

State of bathrooms in the ward.
State of bathrooms in the ward.
(Photo Courtesy: Ayush Anand) 

I was lucky that my lack of smell helped me avoid an extremely unpleasant experience.

State of wash basins.
State of wash basins.
(Photo Courtesy: Ayush Anand) 

I noticed the job of doctors and nurses was confined to their allotted dispensary room. They never felt the need to engage in regular inspections, check up on patients and ask them if any problems still persist.

Dirty bathrooms.
Dirty bathrooms.
(Photo Courtesy: Ayush Anand) 

Social Stigma Surrounding the Virus

It takes 14 days to heal physiologically, but the overwhelming anxiety takes a while to deal with. The sudden change from interacting with people to self-isolation is the real challenge.

Through the course of my recovery I chose to keep myself busy. I was reading, preparing for my upcoming examinations and focussed on surrounding myself with positivity.

Add to this is the social stigma patients face. I did not expect to be treated like an alien/outcast by people, but could consciously feel it. Even after 21 days of isolation, people like myself are being forced to navigate a world that is not yet ready to make room for COVID-survivors.

People often ask me “Why are you outside? You had coronavirus, you should be quarantining yourself at home.”

I feel like asking them, “How long should I stay inside my house post-recovery? Forever?” Discrimination is rampant and ostracisation of patients visible. A drug or vaccine will cure the disease, but it remains to be seen whether it can tackle the social stigma attached with it.

Building immunity is the primary concern till a vaccine is available for the population at large. We need to remember that a huge percentage of people are recovering everyday. We have to stay positive and strong. We need everyone’s participation to overcome this battle together.

I promise we will get through this.

(Calls to the Civil Surgeon and Hospital Manager of the isolation ward in question went unanswered.)

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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Published: 30 Jul 2020, 11:18 AM IST
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