Express News Service

KOCHI: Feelings of guilt and anxiety, for having unknowingly transmitted the Covid virus to a lot of people, including kith and kin, can weigh heavily on one’s conscience. Elsa Joseph, a 23-year-old final-year degree student at Kalady in Kochi, went through such an ordeal during the pandemic. 

In the initial days of Covid, when the world at large was at a loss as to how to handle the emerging situation, Elsa tested positive for Covid, the first case in her ward in Kanjoor panchayat. Elsa’s journey through the pandemic has been a story of woes— from being shifted to a First-Line Treatment Centre (FLTC) and her father getting infected with the virus in the second wave to having to put aside her wedding that was fixed for last month.

Elsa’s parents own a restaurant at Angamaly, from where she believes that she may have contracted the infection. Initially, she did have a few Covid symptoms of sore throat and fever, but did not get proper guidance from the nearby government hospital, as no one was clear about how to handle the situation. It was on August 22 last year that Elsa tested positive for the virus. From then, her life has been a saga of anxiety, worry and hope.

There were 25 people in Elsa’s primary contact list. “Being the first to test positive in your locality, that too for a hitherto unknown disease, fills you with fear and anxiety. The only way ahead for me was to keep my confidence up and deal with the situation. When I developed the symptoms, I had apprehensions that I had been infected. However, when I approached the healthcare facility, they prescribed me medicines and asked me to wait for a few days. Even at home, I used to wear masks, and I believe that this helped to an extent. At that time, none of my family members contracted the virus from me. That was a huge relief,” said Elsa.

Days spent in isolation at the FLTC at Keezhmad were filled with fear and apprehension. “Since my case was the among the first in the district, my phone used to ring incessantly — officials from health, district administration, police or local self-government bodies would call up to check on me. They needed details to track the primary contacts and wanted to check on my symptoms. It was difficult initially,” said Elsa.

As far as the symptoms were concerned, she had fever, tiredness and breathing issues, but later, as her health improved, getting discharged was just a matter of testing negative. Everybody in Elsa’s family, except her brother and grandmother, contracted the infection later. The latest to be infected was her 55-year-old father, Joseph P A, who tested positive on April 7 this year. “My father had breathing difficulties and he had comorbidities too. For 13 days, he had undergone treatment at a private hospital,” said Elsa.

This proved to be another dampener in her life, as her wedding had to be postponed. Her engagement was scheduled on April 11, but since her father was Covid positive and restrictions were in place, it was put off. “It was the right thing to do in that situation. We could not take any more risks. The pandemic has seared through our lives for a year,” said Elsa.

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