Journalists who tested positive for Covid-19 share their experience

Tashi Dema and Tshering Palden

For the last two years, Rajesh Rai conducted most of his interviews through social media to limit physical contact with people.

Reporting from a high-risk area in Phuentsholing, he went out only when necessary and also followed strict Covid-19 protocols in place.

With a seven-year-old son at home, he said he had to be cautious. When Phuentsholing started opening up, he went out to town once to do a story on the mood of the town earlier this month.

A few days later, he started getting a mild headache.

“I didn’t realise it could be omicron until my son started becoming silent at home. That’s when I thought it was better to check and confirm,” he said.

His son tested positive for omicron. “But I tested negative that time,” the print journalist said.

Two days after he tested negative on the antigen, he started having severe body ache, especially leg pain, sore throat, runny nose, and fatigue.  “I also felt confused. I heard it was brain fog, another Covid-19 symptom.”

He took paracetamol and took a lot of rest. “Recovering took time. The pain subsided. However, I still have weakness and fatigue but not like when I was infected.”

According to him, symptoms differ from person to person. “My wife, who had mild symptoms when we were sick, had more severe fever than me and my son after a few days.”

He said people in the same family don’t fall sick or show symptoms immediately or together. “One can still test negative even after contact with a positive person. I think that’s how the cases are increasing as people move around thinking they are negative when they are actually infected.”

Similarly, a broadcast journalist, Sonam Penjor, said he avoided going out and ensured he followed all protocols and wore personal protection equipment whenever necessary for the last two years.

He said he always wore masks and maintained a one-metre gap when interviewing people. “I always carried hand sanitisers.”

Sonam said he went to the town only three times this year. “I think I got infected there.”

He said he had his booster dose on February 28 and had a high fever, backache, lethargy, loss of appetite, and joints pain that night. “I felt weak.”

They went for the Covid-19 test the next day and both of them tested positive. “I was surprised my wife has already reached recovery phase with the cycle of threshold value 32.7,” he said. “My wife didn’t show any symptoms. I realised the booster dose helped her develop immunity as she got the jab a month ago.”

The pain lasted for four days and he could not sleep for two nights. “I got Covid-19 attack and booster dose pain together,” Sonam said.

Another print reporter, Nima, said he was prepared he would be infected one day as community cases in Gelephu spiralled, but always followed the protocols in place.

He tested positive last week. “I experienced muscle aches and recurrent fever with headache. “The symptoms are like that of seasonal flu but the throat pain and fever are severe. Other symptoms were mild.”

Nima said he consulted friends who also tested positive and was told they recovered without any complications. “But the disease is also mentally stressing. It’s confusing to know if I am recovering or not. The symptoms keep changing. We cannot take it lightly.”

He said it’s difficult not to think about the virus. “I try to do my regular chores to keep myself confident and strong mentally.”

Nima said he must have been exposed to the virus while covering stories about the positive cases in schools and also while going out to buy essentials.