COVID-19 positive thrice in 7 months: Kerala man says, 'corona would be ashamed'
- Savio contracted the coronavirus first when his friend returned to Muscat from China and tested positive
- He was working as a supervisor in a cleaning solutions company in Muscat
- He said he is shocked to learn people committing suicide while in quarantine or getting treatment
His tone is light, his attitude positive as Savio Joseph talks about his encounter with a virus that has crippled the world, turning 2020 into a chaotic year of unprecedented magnitude. Though medical experts have maintained that reinfection is extremely rare in COVID-19 patients, 38-year-old Savio has tested positive three times in seven months.
A native of Ponnukkara in Thrissur district of Kerala, Savio caught the virus before it attained its current pandemic proportions. He was working as a supervisor in a cleaning solutions company in Muscat when a friend, who returned from China, was diagnosed with a strange fever in January. A few days later, Savio felt its symptoms.
“I was having trouble breathing especially when I was inside the air-conditioned office. This went on till the middle of March, soon fever and breathlessness forced me to seek medical help,” says Savio.
Savio was treated for Viral Pneumonia with “high-grade fever, chills, sore throat, dry cough” and was discharged on March 19. But when the doctor, who treated him and a nurse were tested positive for COVID-19, it rang alarm bells, and Savio was asked to stay in quarantine.
Cases went up rapidly and Savio’s four subordinates and 13 of his colleagues, most of them aged 30-40, succumbed to it. This sudden loss of lives made him rethink about his own life, and in June he boarded a Vande Bharat flight to Kerala.
At the airport, his antigen test was negative and Savio went on quarantine for a month. But his symptoms persisted. Every breath felt like a pin piercing his lungs, and he sought medical advice once his quarantine was over, and the RT-PCR turned positive. He was admitted in Thrissur Medical College on July 22 and was discharged on August 1 when he met the criteria– the swab test was negative and he was asymptomatic for 48 hours.
Back from hospital, he kept to his house in the midst of a rubber estate with his aged mother, taking all precautions and staying away from gatherings. The breathing troubles still continued, and Savio went for another test after a month. And it was positive again. To hospital on September 5 and back home on 11, with the test again showing negative, Savio is now digging deep into the reasons for the test to turn positive repeatedly.
“I have come to know that there is a condition called Long COVID where the symptoms last up to six months. And I am told that results vary depending on a number of factors, I am not an expert to comment on it but I want to know for certain why the condition persists.”
And Savio has enough reasons to get an explanation. On the professional front, he needs to restart his career. The personal reasons are more important. He is yet to see his twin daughters, Oliveia and Olieva, born in April. His wife, a nurse in Kozhikode, is also waiting for this ‘COVID time’ to be over for the family to reunite.
But, Savio is not letting the hard days get to him. He is at his cheerful best, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, going for short walks and eating healthy, replacing meat with greens, and taking each day as it comes. And staying positive.
“I am shocked at the number of people committing suicide while in quarantine or getting treatment, I want to tell them, hey, look at me, I have been tested positive three times and here I am, as happy as ever."
He definitely has learned to take life on its stride. Three hospital admissions have given him enough information to keep a tab on his health, he regularly checks his blood pressure and sugar and oxygen levels at home with his own set of apparatus. The community is supportive, he adds, as people are learning to live with the disease.
For the medical fraternity in the state, Savio’s case is indeed rare as his results keep turning positive, but doctors have ruled against reinfection.
“This is not a case of reinfection,” says a doctor attached to the COVID section in Thrissur District Hospital. “It is a prolonged RT-PCR condition which is rare to continue after 3-4 months. Except for the breathing problem he is not complaining of any other symptoms and his CT Scan shows pneumonia has been cured. There could be some variations in testing, and that is why it is turning positive.”
And Savio is sure to go for a test next month. “If I test positive again, Corona would be so ashamed that it could not do anything to me.”