How SA’s ‘Patient 61’ is dealing with his COVID-19 infection

‘In all honesty, I have had regular flu that has left me feeling a lot worse than this has,’ the man known as Patient 61 said.

Picture: 123rf

JOHANNESBURG – A 29-year-old South African businessman who became the 61st patient to be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has spoken out about his experiences with the infection and treatment after he was diagnosed with the disease.

In an interview with #ImStaying website, the man known as “Patient 61” from Ekurhuleni in Gauteng said when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 his immediate concern was for the people he had directly come into contact with before his infection was confirmed.

“I was obviously a bit worried but immediately thought about who I was in contact with. I was also concerned about my business but [I] feel that I took action fast enough,” Patient 61 was quoted as saying by #ImStaying.

TRAVEL HISTORY AND SYMPTOMS

He said that prior to his diagnosis with the coronavirus he had travelled to London, England on 26 February 2020. He also spent a few days in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, before returning to South Africa on 9 March 2020. His wife, who also travelled with him, tested negative for COVID-19.

“My wife travelled with me but she tested negative. She has, however, been tested again just to ensure it wasn’t a false negative. I am in self-isolation by myself at home as I do not want to risk infecting my family at this point,” he said.

Patient 61 said he experienced no symptoms when he arrived back in the country but started feeling slightly ill by Wednesday 11 March. His symptoms included normal flu symptoms like a sore throat, infrequent coughing, and slight drowsiness.

“In all honesty, I have had regular flu that has left me feeling a lot worse than this has. I do understand that it does not affect everyone in the same manner, but this is my personal experience,” he said.

But because of his recent travel to Europe, he then decided to go home from work to self-isolate given the news of the coronavirus outbreak.

By Thursday 12 March, he said he developed a slight fever, with his temperature at 38° Celsius, and that’s when he contacted the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) which advised him to go to the hospital for tests.

When he arrived at the hospital, Patient 61 said he completed a screening form, which included a section where his symptoms had to be indicated and the countries he had recently travelled to which were flagged as high-risk for COVID-19.

He said he was then immediately taken to an isolation ward and wore a mask to ensure that he didn’t infect other patients.

TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

According to Patient 61, a blood and swab test was used to diagnose him with COVID-19. However, the blood test which took about 45 minutes was negative and he was sent home and told to self-isolate while he waited for the result of the swab test.

The swab test showed that he was positive for the coronavirus and the NICD immediately started to trace the people he had directly been in contact with to ensure the disease didn't spread.

“Although I did wait for a while before I was seen to, I think the system is pretty effective. I was one of the first cases here, remember, so everyone is still gaining experience. Overall, I am happy with the measures that have been taken to both diagnose and treat the virus.

“I am also impressed by the measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19. The travel bans, the closure of schools – these are all international measures and I am glad they are being implemented here as well,” he said.

TREATMENT AFTER DIAGNOSES

Though there is no cure or vaccine for the coronavirus, Patient 61 said he was managing the symptoms associated with the disease.

“I am literally just managing my symptoms with Sinutab, Andolex throat spray, Mybulin for pain, and a Pulmicort solution for the nebulizer. I am not using any special medication,” he told #ImStaying.

Despite being diagnosed with a virus that has infected almost 180,000 people worldwide and killed more than 7,000, Patient 61 said he remained hopeful.

“Overall, I have remained calm and positive. It does not help to panic, it will just make everything worse,” he said.

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