28 May 2020 20:36 IST

A quarantine experience that was a pleasant surprise

A student returns from LA to Bengaluru, and is all praise for the excellent care during her isolation

As an international student who just graduated with a Masters degree in media and entertainment law from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, the thought of coming back to India amid the Covid-19 pandemic and being quarantined for 14 days seemed dreadful. However, based on my experience with the Karnataka State government officials, airport authorities, doctors and staff at the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital on Hosur Main Road, Bengaluru, I can readily declare that I am proud of my government and the efforts taken to test people for Covid-19.

 

 

This article is a huge shoutout to the entire team of officials, consisting of doctors, nurses as well as support staff at the Rajiv Gandhi Hospital, aside from the State government officials, police officers and BBMP nodal officers who are working day and night, putting their lives at risk, to ensure the safety of patients like me.

My flight was scheduled to leave San Francisco on May 13, and the fare of $1,362 one way, double the price of an economy-class ticket, left me stupefied and wondering what was in store during the long 21-hour long journey ahead of me.

Distancing and health checks

Owing to the Covid-19 crisis, all Indian students stranded abroad were required to register themselves with the Indian Consulate in Washington D.C. and were chosen to fly back based on their standing in the priority list and through a system of random picking. Among thousands of students, I was fortunate to get a call farly soon.

Air India took the responsibility of organising flights from San Francisco to Bengaluru, with a layover in Delhi, and every possible measure was taken to ensure that all travel guidelines were complied with. Social distancing norms were adhered to, to an extent. However, on the Air India flight, passengers were made to sit three in a row, instead of leaving a seat unoccupied in between. This is something that should be taken care of and changed, as with the current arrangement there is every chance of encountering a carrier and thereby, contracting the virus.

There were, of course, health checks at every port of arrival, and each seemed like a test you had to pass in order to go to the next stage.

Like an obedient child, I passed every test when they recorded my temperature, except for the last leg when I arrived at Bengaluru feeling weak and exhausted, and was subsequently stopped by the airport authorities. All my fellow passengers were sent to a hotel to quarantine and were given the freedom to choose between 5-star, 3-star and budget hotels, with room tariffs varying accordingly. On the other hand, managers at the airport completed my immigration formalities, collected my luggage and I was taken in an ambulance to the testing centre at Rajiv Gandhi Hospital as I had developed a fever.

Meticulous care, great meals

Sitting in the ambulance, all sorts of scary thoughts came to mind: Am I going to be quarantined in a government hospital for 14 days? What if I test positive? When will I be able to see my family? Will the facilities be clean? So many negative thoughts, coupled with my feeling drained and ill. I felt that only a miracle could save me from this sense of hopelessness that was growing inside me.

 

And that miracle came in the form of the wonderful care and treatment that I received at the testing centre. The entire procedure at the testing centre was carried out meticulously, and I had to undergo isolation for a week at the hospital, where a conscious effort was made by each and every doctor and nurse to ensure my speedy recovery. In a span of one week at the hospital, my throat swabs, nose swabs, blood and urine samples were periodically taken, to reinforce my negative Covid-19 result.

It was impressive that the doctors did not neglect my case once I tested negative, but worked relentlessly to figure out what was causing my illness and put me on the right medication to ensure I was cured in no time. A lot of effort was put into making me feel positive; they kept checking on me and I was given healthy and sumptuous meals thrice a day. It literally felt like a home away from home. I was genuinely relieved to be back.

Spotless surroundings, and a 5-star experience too

I was extremely impressed by the cleanliness and sanitation at the centre, and the best part was that everything was done for me free of cost and with so much love and care. The only price I had to pay was that of cooperation and following all their instructions.

 

One good thing about being admitted in the hospital, instead of being quarantined in a hotel was that I was able to see my parents as soon as I arrived and they were able to visit me and bring me food throughout my one week stay at the testing centre. However, there was no physical contact and I could only talk to them from a small window in my room. I was given a room to myself which was fairly well-ventilated and there were no partitions. During my one week stay, there were many patients who were brought for testing and were kept in separate rooms with partitions.

Once I recovered, I was sent to finish the rest of my quarantine period in Taj Vivanta, MG Road. An elaborate procedure was followed even to get me discharged and send me to the hotel. I was sent in an ambulance to Taj and only once the BBMP nodal officer contacted the hotel and gave them permission, I was allowed to check in and they sanctioned my stay. Each and every guideline was strictly adhered to.

There were doctors stationed even at the hotel to check our temperature everyday and update our records. Food was served in boxes thrice a day and kept outside the room. Before I checked out, my nose and throat swabs were taken for the third time to ensure that I had no symptoms and was safe to go back home.

I am extremely grateful to each and everyone who looked after me and can confidently say the people of Bangalore are in the safest hands. Do not hesitate to visit the testing centre at Rajiv Gandhi Hospital even if you have the smallest of symptoms. This post is my small way of appreciating the efforts and care taken by all State government officials and doctors who helped me recover faster than I knew. They were very pro-active and I am extremely happy to be back in my country with my own people, where commendable measures are being taken to control the spread of the virus. This post is also dedicated to all those readers who underestimate the power of our government and tend to criticise it without having any first-hand experience.

(The writer is a post-graduate in Media and Entertainment Law from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.)

Recommended for you