On 3rd September 2020, one of my colleagues tested positive. Naturally, the rest of the colleagues felt that we should also test ourselves as we have closely worked with the positively tested associate. We gave our swab samples on the evening of 3rd September, Thursday. Many, including me, had no symptoms, whereas a couple of staff had some symptoms a week back, but by that time, had no symptoms.
We followed our normal work on Friday and Saturday. I addressed one webinar sponsored by RAMCO cement on ‘Challenges in Construction Sites’. Everything was as usual and routine. But on Sunday, 6th September, the test result came and I found myself as Corona positive and had to be in self-isolation, immediately.
I was not only surprised but also shocked, especially when I was aware that the entire World finds it difficult to fight against Covid-19.
I immediately informed my wife that I became Corona positive and my bedroom became my isolation chamber. I also intimated to all my friends, relatives, and others regarding the test results. Then I called to government helpline 104 intimating them, that ‘I have tested positive’ and asking what would be the next step to carry out.
In fact, since Lockdown started, I never stayed at home. Being an Engineer, I first engaged in the building of COVID centres and subsequently got the pass to look after my projects and 700 odd labourers/workers who were stuck at the labourer camps because of the all-India lockdown.
After 20th April 2020, the Construction sector opened, and thus, I was always at site/projects, irrespective of a lockdown or no lockdown. I am always sincere in following the COVID prevention protocols such as social distancing, masks, and hand sanitization. That’s why I was surprised when I became Corona positive. But then I thought, it may be a blessing in disguise and I could take some rest and even I could write something interesting.
Then the tele-doctor contacted and asked me how I was feeling. I said I am normal and I had no symptoms. Then the doctor wondered and asked why I tested myself! According to him, people having some symptoms should be tested as any asymptomatic person could be positive if testing is done on him.
Further, he said that asymptomatic people don’t spread or rarely spread so the protocols have changed. There’s a chance of a false-positive in the RT-PCR test. Finally, the doctor advised me to take vitamin-C, and multi-vitamins only.
This made me confused as to whether I am really positive or a victim of a false positive. In the next couple of days, the Municipality people came, pasted a poster in front of my flat, and advised my wife about what to do and what not to do.
Getting all the feedback from the Municipal people, my wife treated me as if I am a strange person and started observing all those protocols for dealing with a Corona positive patient, staying in home isolation. The domestic help stopped coming to the house and literally, along with me, my wife, and my son was imprisoned in the house.
From that day, my frustration level hit high. I felt that I was unnecessarily quarantined. No symptoms developed for another week. Thus, I went for another RT-PCR test on 11th September and found myself as Corona negative. I thought after being negative my quarantine should end. But Municipal people didn’t agree and explained that the guidelines say the quarantine will be for 17 days and that doesn’t speak about re-test. In fact, even after 17 days, the positive tested people are to be released without any test.
My frustration again increased as my further research on data said that Anti-gen tests give true positive but false-negative whereas the RT-PCR test gives true negative but sometimes false positive.
I was sure that my RT-PCR test in the first place was a false positive because experts say coronavirus stays in a patient’s body even up to 90 days after being cured. That’s why the guidelines say that when a corona positive patient becomes asymptomatic after 17 days (10 days at the hospital plus 7 days home quarantine or 17 days total home isolation), the quarantine ends without any testing because the RT-PCR test may show positive or false positive.
Later, I did an antibody test. If someone is infected by COVID 19, then anti-body to COVID develops in the body. My antibody test is negative which means I am yet to be infected by Covid-19 thus, I became a victim of a false positive!
My experience with those two weeks’ isolation was really frantic. I thought I could write something and took some rest too. But the thought that I might be a victim of a false-positive made me felt like I was under house arrest. The following are the lessons if others want to learn.
I concluded the above after discussing it with many doctor friends. And yes, Corona Virus is highly contaminating but can be treated like just another flu, if you have no co-morbidity.
Even if you test positive, don’t be fearful. It has a high recovery rate in India (or Indian atmosphere) with very low fatality. Even cancer patients at the age of 90 are recovering in India. Thus take care, observe all preventive measures/protocols, and if you still test positive, follow the doctor’s advice and stay positive.