When doctors at the Ebrahim Bawany Industrial Training Institute, located at Ajwa road in Vadodara, confirmed that Nehreen Shaikh (19) had tested negative in her second consecutive COVID-19 test on April 22, she had broken into tears of joy and uttered a prayer. One among the 97 patients under treatment at the COVID-19 care centre set up by the Muslim educational trust in association with the district administration, Nehreen could only think of the things she would do once back home in Nagarwada, just in time for Ramzan.
On Thursday, along with 44 other recovered patients, she boarded the city bus that took them to their homes in Nagarwada — now part of the cluster containment red zone — where doctors, nurses and residents welcomed them with applause. “My uncle came to fetch me at the drop point and brought me home. I was so thrilled to see my family, I hugged them tight. My mother served my favourite meal of vegetable pulav and mango juice and I offered prayers, asking the almighty to end this pandemic. The area doesn’t look like its normal self at all, there are barricades and security everywhere,” said Nehreen. “I was very scared. There were others from the neighbourhood who had tested positive, but no one from my family. I am happy to be back home before Ramzan, I will offer my prayers for everyone.”
Nehreen has also recorded a video message to create awareness about plasma donation, following the counselling sessions conducted by the doctors of the Baroda Muslim Doctor’s Associ-ation. Another 18-year-old recovered patient from the area said, “I waited everyday to recover. I came home today (Thursday) and asked my mother to give me a head massage as it helps me feel safe. I had a simple home meal, which felt exotic. These 14 days gave me time to reflect on the importance of being with loved ones. As I begin my Ramzan fast from Saturday, I will keep everyone in prayers,” he said.
A 32-year-old mechanic, who also returned home on Thursday, said that he had followed the administration’s instructions for the safety of his family. “If you ask me, I would not want to be called a recovered COVID-19 patient. I don’t think I ever had COVID-19; I have come back exactly the way when I was taken away. But I followed the instructions of the administration and doctors, because I respect our community members who had asked us to cooperate. I did not want to take a chance with my family’s health, especially with my children. I will also donate blood if needed. At least one person from almost all houses in the area has tested positive. The shops are closed, the hustle-bustle and the chatter of friendly neighbours is missing because everyone is indoors. We will have a very different Ramzan this time,” he said.
Many like him are unable to fathom their status of being “COVID-19 recoveries”. A 28-year-old from the area, who was discharged on Thursday, also believes that he never contracted the infection. “I tested negative the first time. I then had mild fever and they asked me to take the test again. Later, they told me that it was positive, but I don’t think it was true. I decided to stay at the centre for treatment of fever and to keep my family safe. Now that I am back home, I am going to offer my rozas for my family and the world.”
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