I went to get tested for COVID-19 and this is my story!

Dear Friends,

I am Rhea Narielwalla, a 23-year-old Monitoring and Evaluation Officer from Swasti – The Health Catalyst. My work takes me into multiple garment factories where I learn about worker wellbeing and help design innovative methods to help workers easily access quality and affordable health and wellbeing services. Given the panic and curiosity around COVID-19 I wanted to share with you a recent experience of getting COVID-19 tested.

On Tuesday the 10th of March I left work early because I had a low fever, body pain and a sore throat. I came home and immediately began using every home remedy at my disposal (i.e herbal teas, saltwater gargling, eating soups/broths).

Yet, even after a day, I saw very little improvement. I still felt unwell, the low fever, body pain and sore throat continued and I reached out to my colleague Dr. Angela Chaudhuri. My conversation with her prompted me to visit Manipal Hospital on HAL Old Airport Road to get my symptoms checked out.

When I entered, I made my way through the sea of people to the Help Desk where I asked to see a General Physician. I was directed down a flight of stairs and to the registration desk where I was asked to self-register and pay Rs.200. Following this, i was directed to a “Health Check” desk and then to yet another desk to pay Rs.700 to consult with a doctor. This took 30 minutes. After I waited for about 20 minutes, a nurse called me to check my blood pressure, weight and temperature. She made notes in my file and asked me to wait for the doctor to call me in. Over an hour later I was called in.

The doctor asked about my medical history and then assessed my symptoms. I asked whether there was any cause for worry, to which he replied “no, as you are young, have no underlying health issues and very mild symptoms”. He went on to explain that only when the symptoms are serious or the patients are “high-risk” do they require testing via specialised testing-kits and only a handful of those go on to require hospitalisation.

The testing procedure (via testing kit) involves the following:

(i) a blood test

(ii) a swab taken from the throat or nose

(iii) a sample taken from the nose using a small suction device

(iv) a small tube that goes into the mouth and collects a sample from the lungs

Since mine was a very low-risk case I was not asked to test using a testing kit, I was simply asked to take the prescribed medication and rest at home for 7 days.

Presently, hospitals do not have enough testing kits for the volume of people coming in to get their symptoms checked. Therefore, it is important that all cases are screened based on risk-factors. The doctor said that most of the cases coming in are mild and can be best treated by staying at home, taking prescribed medication and resting well.

He mentioned that panic is every doctor’s worst enemy right now and is being fueled by the media. He mentioned multiple times during my consultation that in low-risk cases (such as mine) rest is the key to beating any symptoms but sadly, it is the part that most people overlook due to existing family obligations, work, social engagements etc.

Wishing you and your family good health through this season. Please do take care and follow the directions issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. And as the good doctor said, Don’t Panic!

Regards,

Rhea N.

About the Contributor: Rhea is a 23-year-old Monitoring and Evaluation Officer from Swasti – The Health Catalyst. Swasti is a global public health non-profit that works to make well-being a reality for the vulnerable communities.

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