Coronavirus: Confirmed and hounded on social media, Kerala couple test negative, leave hospital

Shaju Philip
coronavirus kerala, covid 19 kerala cases, coronavirus kerala death, coronavirus death toll in india, indian express

Robin Thomas and Reena with their daughter.

ISOLATED FOR 20 days in hospital, a Kerala couple, Robin Thomas and Reena, who were tested positive for COVID-19, left Medical College Hospital in Kottayam on Saturday after they were tested negative.

The virus had cast a shadow over the Kottayam-based family. Seven relatives of Thomas, 34, including his parents-in-law and the latter’s aged parents, were tested positive for COVID-19. All have emerged negative.

The couple’s four-year-old daughter remained unscathed, even though she stayed with her parents all these days in hospital isolation, wearing a mask and under other precautions.

Thomas said, “Initially, fear of death haunted me and my wife. Since our daughter was with us, we could not even cry aloud — I went to the bathroom and cried. When we were isolated... COVID-19 meant death in the world outside — on phone, we read news about death everywhere; we thought our end was near.”

Thomas, who worked as a nurse in Malta before the family’s return to Kerala in June 2019, said fear of death had been the dominating thought in the first week of isolation. Later, doctors, nurses and counsellors infused hope and confidence.

They were married in 2013, and lived in different countries “to piece together a life”, Thomas said. “While I worked in Malta and later in the UAE, my wife was in Italy with her parents (the latter worked in Italy). We returned to Kerala last June,” he said.

Thomas and Reena, 29, were primary contacts of three family members who returned from Italy and tested positive on March 8, marking the second bout of COVID-19 in Kerala. Thomas, Reena and their daughter had gone to Kochi airport to pick up his in-laws and their son. When the in-laws were confirmed with the virus on March 8, the couple went into isolation. They, too, tested positive on March 10.

Thomas said they were treated by fellow villagers — in Chengalam, Kottayam — as people who brought COVID-19 to the village. Several other relatives and friends had to go into home quarantine, he said.

“When a friend’s father died it was projected as a COVID-19 death (even though reports did not indicate so). Just because I was their neighbour, his body was subjected to autopsy. But even as many others found fault with me, my friend called me to comfort,’’ Thomas said.

He feels relieved that none of his primary or secondary contacts — many are still in home quarantine — tested positive.

During isolation, he said, they faced the challenge of keeping their daughter safe. “We were torn between love and safety. Our daughter wanted to us to hug and kiss her like always, but we could not. All three of us wore wearing masks — we told her that a serious disease had caught us, and that she was safe.”

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