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Maharashtra’s first Covid couple adapts to new normal: wearing masks, avoiding crowds

Awati wistfully recalled how the 63-year-old man, who had passed away, was among the many who had cheered as they returned from Naidu Infectious Diseases hospital. Since then, Pune city has reported more than 2 lakh Covid-19 cases and 4,800 deaths.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
March 5, 2021 11:03:58 pm
Covid-appropriate behaviour involves ensuring physical distancing from one another and wearing mask when in large gathering. (Representational)

On Friday, 52-year-old Jivandhar Awati was busy helping with the funeral arrangements of one of the members of the society in which he resides on Sinhagad Road. The same society where several had cheered and clapped when Awati and his wife had returned home after recovering from coronavirus disease and helped them with groceries and food packets. On March 10, it will be a year since Awati and his 45-year-old wife Prashanti were detected with Covid-19 infection and became the state’s first positive cases.

Awati wistfully recalled how the 63-year-old man, who had passed away, was among the many who had cheered as they returned from Naidu Infectious Diseases hospital. Since then, Pune city has reported more than 2 lakh Covid-19 cases and 4,800 deaths.

The couple, along with their daughter, were among the 40-member group that had visited Dubai and returned to India on March 1. While they did not have any symptoms, their throat swabs were tested as a precautionary measure and they were confirmed for SARS-CoV2 virus.

“There was a huge scare, and initially it was tough to be isolated. But we were together and used the time to bond. The important message is not to panic if one has Covid,” he said. “After being discharged, we were at home for three months.”

On May 5, B J Medical College and Sassoon general hospital asked Awati to donate blood plasma. “Authorities at the college told me that a woman was ill and plasma would help. The therapy uses antibodies from the blood of a recovered coronavirus patient to help another infected person. They used the plasma for another man and in both cases the people recovered,” said Awati, who is the operations head of a skill development project at BVG India Limited.

“From the beginning, physical exercise was important for us. With the rising cases, some of my relatives got infected in Kolhapur and Sangli but recovered soon. The motto was not to panic. We also guided them to remain vigilant about symptoms and consult the doctor,” Awati said.

While the Awatis made a few visits outside Pune – to Kolhapur and Sangli — mainly to see ageing parents and other relatives, they said masking was crucial. “We avoided crowded places, and barring work-related travel, have not really gone anywhere,” Awati said.

With his wife managing household chores and getting back to her routine, their daughter working from home, and son — an engineering student — engaged in online studies, the family now waits for their vaccine shots.

Liquid oxygen tank at Naidu hospital

Pune: After an initial scare, not only has infrastructure been upgraded a year later at Naidu Infectious Diseases Hospital run by Pune Municipal Corporation, but training sessions with doctors and nurses have made them well-equipped to handle Covid-19 cases.

This was among the first hospitals to be dedicated for Covid-19 treatment. Initially, jumbo oxygen cylinders were used as part of Covid treatment, which was replaced by dura cylinders, and now this dependence will be reduced as a liquid oxygen tank has been installed.

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“It is inspection mode,” said Dr Sudhir Patsute, Medical Superintendent who had handled H1N1 cases (swine flu) in 2009 and leads a large team of 23 doctors, 50 nurses and administrative and sanitation staff.

Dr Patsute, who was infected with Covid-19 and has recovered, has been monitoring patients. Currently there 91 patients admitted at the hospital, of whom 40 are on oxygen support and 12 in ICU.

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