The Weekly Dose: Your very own expert guide on what to do if you have Covid symptoms
Delay testing. Wait until your house-help of thirty years is running from pillar to influential post for an ICU bed (Plenty and more are available; the media is hyping things up as usual). If your octogenarian aunt - whom you surprised on her birthday last week - suddenly gasps and passes away, shake your head in saddened disbelief and say: “But she was so healthy for her age”.
What symptoms? You’re burning up, but only with indignation at how Chinese soldiers have brazenly encroached upon Indian territory until they’re practically shooting at your doorstep. Also, you’re scoffing, not coughing - at how Bollywood has weed into its own bathwater. You can hardly stagger out of bed, so burdened are you by the prospect of another Zoom call, and your entire body aches after the backbreaking chore of rinsing your own teacup. And when was the last time you could smell something? But with bitter gourd for lunch again, it’s almost a blessing. You’ll have to admit you’re feeling a bit breathless though - with excitement, because #IPL2020.
So there’s no need to get tested-wested. Corona-shorona is all just in your mind, not in your lungs. You’re fine. Believe it, and it will be true. Think positive, and you will be negative.
As you gaze fondly upon your insulin syringes, reflect upon how oh-so-healthy you are. Pat yourself on the back for a lifetime spent popping Covid-protective Vitamin C whilst you sort out eleven types of pills for blood pressure and kidney problems. What is this virus that has the temerity to think it can survive the assault of a battery of immunity-boosting medications, none of which - incidentally - is an antibiotic?
Delay testing. Wait until your house-help of thirty years is running from pillar to influential post for an ICU bed (Plenty and more are available; the media is hyping things up as usual). If your octogenarian aunt - whom you surprised on her birthday last week - suddenly gasps and passes away, shake your head in saddened disbelief and say: “But she was so healthy for her age”. When you hear that half of the parents and in-laws of your evening walk-where-you-sit-in-one-
When you run out reasons to explain away your symptoms, get tested. When you test positive, panic.
Hide the reports. Scrunch them into a ball, and swallow. Wash down with a grog distilled from the roots, leaves, flowers, fruits and resident insects of the turmeric plant. Without a printed report, no one will know you’re positive. In fact, if there’s no printed test result, did you even go for a test?
Remove your SIM card, soak it in sanitiser and set it afire. Or courier your phone to Tibet. Never let the authorities know where you are. The apocalypse is here, and health personnel are secretly exterminating anyone who’s positive.
If a public health worker shows up at your doorstep, hire an assassin. No one must know. If the municipal corporation wants to sanitise your home, fashion Molotov cocktails out of Old Monk bottles, and throw at will. Forestall all this by escaping to Goa, a state well known for its sunny beaches and profusion of overstaffed, overfull-with-ventilators, underwhelmed-with-patients hospitals.
Don’t tell anyone. Not the others in your carpool. Or the AC technician you’ve called home for regular maintenance in anticipation of winter. Definitely don’t tell the nanny, who is a single parent herself. Covid is a venereal sore you must hide.
Do tell a doctor. Preferably someone in your extended social circle, whom you haven’t met or spoken to since she was a medical student. The best time to call her is 3 am, after you’re done screaming, babbling and sobbing over your reports. She is - of course - wide awake, just pining to hear from you.
To provide her with enough context to understand your entirely unique condition, launch into an exhaustive medical history, beginning with that time you fractured your arm in fourth grade, right up to when your left knee started aching three minutes ago. She really wants to know all about you. You are special.
Make sure you speak in a whisper, lest Amit Shuncle listens in. Share nothing on WhatsApp, if you’d like to avoid Navika aunty telling you that the D in COVID stands for drugs. Report to your doctor-friend every 30 minutes, or whenever one of your three pulse oximeters shows that your oxygen saturation has plummeted from 98% to 97%.
Ask her to block a hospital bed for you. When she refuses, use your contacts and pay through your un-smelling nose to keep a place vacant in an ICU. That bed is better used to reassure you of the availability of emergency backup than to save a dying patient. If this doesn’t work, slip some cash to the medically qualified peon of the nearest unregistered nursing home; all you need is a bed in a building that calls itself a hospital.
Procure Remdesivir from the black market. Hoard it. So what if you don't know it is administered? Sleep with a vial or three of the drug next to your pillow, and feel safe. Check to see if you have enough gas cylinders in your kitchen and oxygen cylinders in the bedroom. Boil a litre of cow urine first thing in the morning, sweeten with some homeopathy, and sip throughout the day. Everything will be fine.
Cheer yourself up by reconnecting with people in person. Don’t we visit sick folks in the hospital to make them feel better? Arrange a get-together for all the couples of the building in which you are the only Covid-positive resident. Invite home that cousin whom you don’t really like and lost touch with since ‘83, but who knows when y’all can meet again? Host a school reunion.
Find reasons to step out. When the Metro in your city reopens, take a joyride to reassure others that it’s safe. When your wife mutters under her breath that this curry could do with some mint leaves, depart post-haste to buy a sprig from the nearest mobbed vegetable seller. Go downstairs for a smoke every evening, to give company to that lonely bachelor, poor fellow.
Steer clear of masks, obviously. You already have Covid, why make it even more difficult for you to breathe?