Surviving COVID-19 onslaught : My experience

Clay Khongsai *

 Clay Khongsai (on February 11 2014)
Clay Khongsai (on February 11 2014) :: Pix - TSE

It was in the second week of August 2020 that I first pressed the panic button on Covid-19. Several men in uniform had gotten infected with the coronavirus in my office vicinity, and out of apprehension, I got myself tested. It was done in RAT( Rapid Antigen Test) and the result was expected to come out within half an hour.

After my nasal swab was taken, the wait for half an hour seemed like hours and my mind swirled with thoughts like, "Did I take enough precautions like wearing masks, hand washing, use of hand sanitizers, keeping safe distances, et al. What about files in my office which I touch every day, what about cash notes while buying daily needs, what about this, what about that?" So many possible loopholes to think of.

Then "What if I test positive ? What next ? Do I stay in a Covid Care Hospital, what personal care am I supposed to take, what about my family, my security personnel, or those in contact with me..etc?"

In that half an hour, I must have thought about a thousand things, from personal contact tracing to imagining doctors wearing PPE kits and treating positive cases in hospitals. It was dreadful to think of such situations.

Thankfully, within half an hour, the RAT result came out negative. Now that was a real relief, else I wasn't prepared for the inevitable. Period.

Two months later, in the first week of October, as the Covid-19 cases spread locally, infiltrating localities, far and near, my driver reported unwell due to slight fever and cough. Now that was an alarm bell. A typical symptom of coronavirus prompting me to direct him to immediately get himself tested for Covid-19.

The next day, he was confirmed positive for the coronavirus. I swung into action and got all the security personnel including the house guards tested. Almost all of them tested Covid-19 positive, but so far asymptomatic. Then came our cook and helper, who also tested positive but considered asymptomatic so far.

Realizing that it has infiltrated the household and has gotten too close for comfort, I got myself and my family members tested the day after the cook and helper were confirmed positive. Since the testing was done in RT-PCR, it took time for the results to come.

The waiting period was long, and this time, despite all possible precautions taken, I was very sure of being infected though we were all fine and would be considered asymptomatic if we test positive. The more I thought about it, the more I was sure that there was just no way we would be spared.

In the evening, the results came out. All tested positive for Covid-19 and asymptomatic, except me ! & "What? Was this even possible ?", I asked myself in disbelief.

"What was different about me that I alone could test negative, when the rest were all positive?"

We stay in the same house, eat the food prepared from the kitchen, eat in the same dining room, use the same utensils, glasses, clothes, towels, and touch objects commonly used, etc.

Now let me be frank, we don't wear masks at home, though basic hygiene of regularly washing hands, use of hand sanitizers were done on various occasions when essentials were brought from outside. We also follow health protocols whenever we go out.

Meanwhile, calls started coming from the Health Department conducting contact tracing, giving the choice of home isolation as all of them were asymptomatic, undertakings to be sent and personal health cares to be followed. Calls also came from the District Administration for declaring my residence a Containment Zone.

Imphal East SP, Clay Khongsai handing out DTH sets on August 30 2011
Imphal East SP, Clay Khongsai handing out DTH sets on August 30 2011 :: Pix - TSE

It now dawned on us that the coronavirus is within us. As I was the only negative person, I shifted to a separate room and requested the rest to wear masks and put on gloves while cooking, house cleaning, and also while serving me.

I was surprised that I no longer panicked and calmly accepted the inevitable. Being the only negative person but staying under the same roof, I was also advised for home quarantine for 14 days.

In the days that followed, the house was buzzing with daily gargling, steaming, and self-service mostly. Amidst the home isolation and home quarantine, our relatives showered us with delicious cooked meals dropped at our gate now and then. Some friends and well-wishers sent fruits, eatables, and essential items.

On the 12th day, out of my curiosity, I went for a test again. Though I wanted to get it done by RT-PCR, some shortage of testing kits was cited at JNIMS VRDL, so I opted for RAT. My test result came out negative yet again.

As for my family, at the time of writing this, they have now completed 17 days of home isolation (10 days plus 7 days home quarantine) and sailing smoothly with no problem whatsoever.

I am now convinced that, more than anything else, it may have to do more with my discipline and good health habits which I follow regularly that has kept me from being positive. This made me realize that I should share my experience so that it may be beneficial to those who can follow.

Looking back, I would like to summarize it this way.

- The first thing I do every morning when I get up is to gargle my throat with warm saline water. Then with the same saline water, I rinse my nose by putting in the warm saline water in one nose and take it out from the other nose (it is a yoga method I learned out of necessity for sinus and allergy problems).

- Thereafter, I drink three glasses (big steel glass) of warm water mixed with a slice of a quarter lemon dipped into the glass after squeezing the juice. This is a habit I have followed for the past several years. It helps build immunity and also to cleanse your system.

-Then I wait for 15/20 minutes and go for a gingered milk tea with a slice of bread ("Chhota hazri" a school habit I am stuck with). Only after this, I go to the washroom.

Once this ablution is over, I get ready for my regular walks/jogging and then workouts/play games. I drink protein shake on the days of my workouts.

After cooling down from workouts, and before taking a shower bath, I drink ginger tea (half cup and no milk).

After a good breakfast, I am ready to face the day. I do confess that it was difficult to follow this regime when I was a field officer. Now it's a lot easier to maintain the regimen without much break.

If you can follow this routine with consistency, I am certain that you are in a better position to ward off Covid-19. Of course, keep following the health protocols of wearing masks in public places, meeting halls, gatherings, washing hands frequently with soap or using hand sanitizer, keeping a safe distance in crowded places and taking good care of your hygiene.

Stay safe, stay healthy and good luck.

* Clay Khongsai wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is IGP, Manipur Police
This article was webcasted on October 26 2020.

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