People who tested positive for coronavirus share their experiences

Dechen Dolkar 

The country reported the first death of the current pandemic yesterday when a 34-year old woman died at the national referral hospital in Thimphu. The woman had chronic kidney disease and was also infected with Covid-19.

However, many infected with the disease say that Omicron is a milder variant of the SARS- CoV-2, going by what they are experiencing in the isolation ward in twos, threes, or in groups. Some are sharing videos of their experience in isolation on social media. Kuensel talked to some who were willing to share their experiences.

A costly ride

On his way out of a tunnel at the Punatsangchhu II project, Dorji (name changed) met the water tanker driver, the index case of the outbreak in Wangduephodrang. The driver offered Dorji a lift. Dorji happily accepted and took a ride with the tanker driver.

A few days later, he heard in one of the project’s social media groups that the driver had tested positive for coronavirus. Worried, the 41- year-old employee of Hindustan Construction Limited volunteered for testing on January 15. Two days later, he tested positive.

“I had a flu for the past few days before I met the driver and didn’t expect it to be the virus,” said Dorji, who is now recovering in isolation at the old Bajo hospital.

Dorji shares a room with four other covid patients, all from the project. Except for a stuffy nose when the weather is bad, Dorji is not very sick. With 10 days gone, he is waiting to go back to his wife and son, both of whom are his primary contacts. However, both his wife and son tested positive on Thursday after he requested that they be tested.

“I was not sick when I came to the hospital. On the third day, I got a severe fever, headache, and backache that kept me up until dawn,” he said. “That was it. I am totally fine now,” said Dorji, who said his only worry is for their pet dogs after his wife and son are taken for isolation. “I wish they could isolate at home, since there is no treatment required and we do not live in a shared building.”

Dorji spends his time talking to family and friends, and on social media. His roommates play dice games on their phone to kill time.

There are about 30 patients in the hospital, all from the Punatsangchhu project. “Everybody said after the fever and headache, we will get better. I think it is true,” said Dorji, who said he was given vitamins and Citrizen tablets. “I am totally fine now.”

A primary contact of the positive case who got the virus while working in containment mode in Samdrupjongkhar said he was put in a quarantine centre for being identified as a primary contact. “All the primary contacts are kept together,” he said.

He said that there are more than 20 people in one big room. “Both old cases and new cases are put together in one room,” he said. “All of us in the room are pretty healthy. I was having a bit of a sore throat and fever, but not severe.”

They spend their time playing games, watching YouTube, and exercising to deal with boredom, he added.

A 48-year old woman who tested positive recently in Samdrupjongkhar said she was put in a quarantine facility after returning from her village, Jomotshangkha. She said she was surprised that she had tested positive because she has not gone anywhere other than her village. She lives in Trashigang.

The woman, along with another woman, are recovering. Their only complaint is that they do not have a television set in their room.

The community index case in Samdrupjongkhar, a 24-year-old female, said that she didn’t have any symptoms. She didn’t know that she was covid-positive until she visited the hospital for her child’s routine health check-up. “I didn’t go anywhere. I am surprised I tested positive,” she said. Later, all her family members tested positive. Six of them are staying in the same room in the isolation facility. Her 84-year-old father also tested positive. “We don’t have any symptoms.”

Another positive patient from Gelephu, a 31-year-old woman who has been identified as primary contact, tested positive a few days ago.

Her three children tested positive later. Her husband was identified as the primary contact and is in a quarantine facility.

She said that apart from mild flu- like symptoms, it is the complaints of the children that is the problem. “My children want to go home and see their father.”

A 38-year-old driver who tested positive recently from a community in Gelephu said he tested negative when checked at the Panbang BHU. He said that during the blackout period, with approval from the authorities, he went to Pangbang to drop off goods and returned to Gelephu.

He said that he had attended a funeral and went to get tested at the flu clinic after getting flu-like symptoms. He tested positive both on antigen and RT-PCR tests.

His two children, wife, and the 87-year-old mother all tested positive.

A 13-year old girl who tested positive in Gelephu said that she is not having any symptoms. Her mother is also staying with her in a room in an isolation facility, though she has not tested positive. “I am playing PUBG the whole day.”


No hospitalisation  required

Technical Advisory Group member Dr Tshokey said that none of the patients in isolation facilities required hospitalization.

He said that the patients are kept in isolation facilities for two weeks for Omicron variants whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. In some countries, they are kept for 7 to 10 days in isolation, and patients usually recover within this time period.

“Usually most of the patients test negative after two weeks. If in cases the patients test positive after two weeks, they will be tested again after two days,” Dr Tshokey said.

He said that usually, they do not collect test samples from positive patients until two weeks have gone by. They collect samples from only a few patients in between for monitoring.

He also said that medicines are given to patients with mild symptoms. “The rest are not even using medication.”