Tinu Cherian Abraham is a Bengaluru-based corporate communications professional who went into self-quarantine much before the state health officials advised home isolation for people travelling from foreign countries. He says self-quarantine is doable if one inculcates a few new habits.
“It is very essential to have one dedicated person who will take care of you; it can be a family member or your spouse. Although you are risking that person’s health and life, it is essential that you complete the quarantine,” says Abraham.
“I would not advise doing the quarantine alone. In my case, it was my wife. We always maintained distance from each other, kept interaction to the minimal and she would sanitise herself every time she helped me with anything,” he says.
Jokingly, Abraham calls it a test of marriage vow of “being together in sickness and in health.” But the couple took extra precaution to ensure there were no common touch points that could possibly infect the other.
“I avoided going to the common area and balcony. We used different utensils. All my clothes and utensils were kept separately. I would leave my plates in the kitchen separately and it was washed 24 hours later to ensure there was no threat of spreading,” says Abraham, who is now relieved to be out of self-quarantine. However, several passengers who landed in the city after third week of March were not that lucky as there was already a lot of panic about the pandemic by then. Bengaluru based solution architect, Arun Javagal, managed to fly back to the country from Indonesia, one of the several other affected countries, just days before India closed its airports. His ordeal started as soon as he landed.
Javagal had to spend an entire night on a bench outside a hospital as his landlord was not willing to allow him inside his house, and he had no other place to go. Taking note of his plight, the doctors agreed to send his samples for a test the next day so he could be admitted in the hospital on that pretext.
“After returning, I had to spend one night outside and another inside a hospital ward. Even after my test results came negative, my landlord was not convinced, and he spoke to his doctors while politely asking me to look for accommodation elsewhere. I was really hurt. I couldn’t go to my own house. They knew me for over a decade but still they were scared,” recollects Javagal.
Javagal is currently under home isolation at his relative’s house in Mysuru and stresses on the need to follow all the protocol. “From the time I started from Bengaluru for Mysuru, I kept the health authorities informed. After reaching Mysuru, I informed the health authorities and local police there to ensure they know about my whereabouts,” he said.
Anxiety during quarantine period is common and both Abraham and Javagal agree that following a few simple steps helps keeping all worries at bay.
“I was very anxious during the initial five-seven days since that is when most people start getting fever and test positive for the infection. I would check my temperature several times a day. Whenever I would feel a little weak, I would get anxious that I have probably contracted the disease. It was mentally very difficult. Although now I have finished more than 12 days in isolation and I am more relaxed, the anxiety is still lingering,” said Javagal, an architect and an activist fighting for more federalism in the country.
Abraham had a bit of a scare after he developed chest congestion during the quarantine. “If not coronavirus, the anxiety will cause more harm. I spoke to doctors and got to know fever was one of the primary symptoms, I did not have that. Then I realized it was probably because of staying in one single room.”
Both Abraham and Javagal advise staying occupied and communicating with friends and family as the most important practice during the quarantine period. “It is very important to talk to people over the phone, I would video chat with my kids every day, and talk to my friends and family. That is very essential when you are confined to one room. I would keep myself busy working from home, watching content on streaming services and I am into trading as well, so I was occupied. But it is important to do different things, otherwise you risk getting addicted,” said Abraham.
Javagal works from home and suggests listening to music and staying active online. “I am into activism. I am busy with that on social media and I am also working from home currently; so it is not difficult.” In fact, he has decided to continue his quarantine for 28 days instead of government-mandated 14 days, just to be on safer side.