Kerala has been one state worst affected as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis in India. As of Saturday evening, 306 patients tested positive for novel coronavirus and two died in Kerala.
Also, out of the 306 patients who tested positive, 50 have been cured and discharged from the hospitals across the state. Besides this, Kerala has also been treating seven foreign nationals who tested positive during various periods of their stay in the state.
Brian Lockwood, a 57-year-old British national who was on a tour to Kerala with 18 other people including his wife from the UK, was tested positive for Covid-19 during his visit. After testing positive, Brian was then immediately shifted to a hospital, moments before he could board his flight to Dubai. After weeks of treatment, Brian was discharged from the Kalamassery Medical College a few days back.
In an exclusive interview with India Today, Brian recounts his experiences during the treatment. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q. You were taken to the hospital just moments before you were to board a flight from Kochi, could you explain what led to this confusion?
A: I had been tested for Covid-19 at Kottayam, a few days before, as I had a fever. My wife and I self-isolated at a hotel in Munnar awaiting the result. We were informed on March 14 that both of us tested negative for the novel coronavirus. Our party, therefore, made plans to catch the plane the next day. I would not have attempted to board a plane if I had been told I had tested positive.
Q. How did you feel when the authorities approached you to shift you to the hospital and you missed your flight?
A: When I heard my name mentioned at the gate, I made myself known but was confused about why they wanted me. When my wife and I were then taken to a holding area and to the hospital, we were so confused as we thought I was tested negative. It was frightening when I learnt the truth.
Q. How was the treatment at the government hospital in Kochi?
A: My wife and I were separated from each other and tested for C19. We both had x-rays done which showed I had pneumonia. Dr Fathahudeen and Dr Jacob and their team quickly started treating me and gave me the option of anti-HIV drugs and other antivirals. Their care and professionalism meant I was comfortable to agree to the treatment. My pneumonia worsened for a time so I was put on a ventilator which really helped my recovery.
Q. Were you satisfied with the amenities, food and response from the medical team?
A: The facilities were stark, however, I understood that this was to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading. The isolation room was disinfected regularly. As this is a local hospital, the food was not always to a western palette, however, the team suggested alternatives and adapted where they could. The medical team was world-class. They were compassionate, caring but also professional. I could not have wished for better care.
Q. Did this experience change your perception about India or Kerala and its health care sector?
A: I had heard that Kerala had top-class medical care and this was borne out in my treatment.
Q. During the course of treatment, were there instances when you thought you would've been treated better in your own country?
A: I do not think I would have been treated any better in the UK. All the medical decisions were made at the right time and they were all there to get the best outcome for their patients. They also kept my wife informed constantly of my condition which I know helped her tremendously.
Q. Having successfully fought the battle with Covid-19, what is your message to rest of the world, the patients and medical staff elsewhere in the country?
A. This is really difficult for me to say. It has changed my outlook and what things are important to me -- material things are not important, family and health is. Please adhere to government guidelines and advice as this is a real threat and needs to be taken seriously. I was very lucky but realise it could have been very different if I had not got the treatment I did. The medical staff in the hospital wore PPE so no flesh was open to the air. All hospitals need to protect their staff this way to keep them safe to do the courageous job they are doing.
After successfully completing the treatment Brian and his wife are now staying in a government facility in Kochi. They are likely to return to the UK after completing the 14-day observation period.