Coronavirus outbreak: Man who tested positive for COVID-19 narrates experience of being cured at home

Updated: Apr 27, 2020, 07:16 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Byculla man, who tested positive but got no aid from designated hospitals, tells how his brother and friend helped him recover

Social worker Anjum Shaikh undergoing treatment at his Byculla house. He is now free of oxygen support
Social worker Anjum Shaikh undergoing treatment at his Byculla house. He is now free of oxygen support

The failure of the BMC to send an ambulance to ferry a patient to a designated COVID-19 hospital might have worked in his favour. Doctors told the patient's brother (a doctor) to continue treatment and get him to hospital in case of an emergency. His brother continued to treat him at home with the help of his friend, another doctor, and Anjum Shaikh, 52, was soon free of pneumonia patches in his lungs and has once tested negative for COVID-19.

His second test for COVID-19 is scheduled for today.

Anjum used to work as a site supervisor at a construction site. Since the lockdown started he would visit under-privileged people staying on footpaths around Haji Ali and Nair Hospital, and hand food packets to them. The only medicines he took were for blood pressure and for allergic cough due to his work.

Anjum Shaikh
Anjum Shaikh

Began with a cough
"I cried when I learnt that my COVID-19 report came positive. I had no clue how the virus entered my body. I practiced and maintained regular hygiene," said Anjum, a resident of Byculla. He was treated at home where he had quarantined himself.

He recalled, "I had mixed water with sodium hypochlorite disinfectant, and after spraying it in my locality when I returned home, I was coughing. I ignored it thinking it might be allergic cough, and soon developed breathlessness, for which my elder brother, Dr Shahid Shaikh, 67, a general practitioner, prescribed routine medicines and antibiotics."

"Initially I could not sleep at night due to the persistent dry cough and got restless the moment I lay flat on the bed. I kept pillows to elevate my head, but still could not sleep," said Anjum. The situation worsened and it was decided to get a chest X-Ray done. It showed patchy pneumonia and by then Anjum developed a further breathing issue.

Anjum Shaikh's X-Ray on April 17 after his first test for COVID-19 came negative on April 15
Anjum Shaikh's X-Ray on April 17 after his first test for COVID-19 came negative on April 15

Dr Shahid Shaikh said, "When Anjum did not respond to my treatment and his X-Ray showed patches of pneumonia and his breathlessness aggravated, I decided to contact my classmate at Grant Medical College, Dr Wiqar Shaikh. He started antibiotics and oxygen therapy."

"On April 11 Anjum tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 and his wife and children were also tested, and sent to quarantine. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was to send an ambulance to shift Anjum to a COVID-19-designated hospital, but it never came, and the doctors who contacted us thereafter on phone, asked us to continue the treatment and get him to hospital in case of any emergency, which we agreed," said Dr Shahid Shaikh. Anjum was given oxygen therapy at home.

'Aggressive treatment'
"I immediately advised Dr Shahid to put Anjum on an aggressive support line of treatment, and prescribed three different bronchodilators and steroid-based inhalers and two higher antibiotics, which were given for 10 days, and even his chest X-Ray done subsequently showed no patch of pneumonia. The COVID-19 test came negative on April 15," said consultant, senior asthma and allergy specialist Dr Wiqar Shaikh. He added that Anjum is off all medication and asymptomatic, the next test for COVID-19 will be will be done this week.

Dr Wiqar Shaikh is of the belief that aggressive treatment with higher antibiotics and a combination of inhaled medication, if given to a home quarantined COVID-19 patient with symptoms, can work. Only if the patient turns serious and needs multiple support systems should she or he be admitted in hospital, and this will also bring down the burden on our over stretched hospitals.

After treatment Anjum is off oxygen therapy, and not on medicines. His X-Ray shows pneumonia patches have disappeared after the medication, his COVID-19 report has come negative and hence he can be called cured, Dr Shahid Shaikh said, adding he has no symptoms or fever, after he underwent 10 days treatment.

Anjum has decided not to venture out for any social work, until the COVID-19 outbreak is fully under control. His advice to people, "Stay at home, maintain hygiene, have warm water, maintain social distance and wear safety masks in case you have to step out, or else you will return home infected and spread the virus to your family. Without family, there is no meaning to life."

Apr 11
Day when Anjum Shaikh's COVID-19 test came positive

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