Three months, 14 swab tests: A 29-year-old Indonesian’s coronavirus ordeal | Coronavirus pandemic

It began as a fever and a sore throat – however what he thought was only a little bit of a chilly changed into a three-month ordeal for 29-year-old Riki Permana.

Riki was working at Soekarno-Hatta Worldwide Airport within the Indonesian capital when he obtained sick, however as his signs worsened, he determined to return to his hometown, Cirebon in West Java, for therapy.


“A physician analysed my signs, and since I labored within the crimson zone, they concluded that it wasn’t only a fever. It was COVID-19,” he instructed Al Jazeera.

As he unpacked his luggage and moved into an isolation ward, Riki had no concept how lengthy he must keep there.

Al Jazeera first began talking with Riki shortly after his prognosis in March – we have been seeking to doc a affected person’s journey from prognosis to restoration within the Indonesian healthcare system.

On the time, we assumed it will be solely a matter of weeks earlier than Riki could be launched from hospital.

Weeks of therapy

We hoped to satisfy him in particular person, to movie his reintegration into society.

However it took almost three months, and 14 swab assessments, for him to clear the virus from his system.


Riki requested to remain in hospital even after he was cleared of the virus due to the stigma related to having been a coronavirus affected person [Supplied/Al Jazeera]

“At the moment, I used to be the longest affected person to be handled for COVID-19 in Cirebon, and in addition the very first affected person,” Riki stated.

“There was a lot consideration targeted on me. You develop into like a star – folks round you’re asking the identical query: How did you get the virus?”

Choices to go the time in his ward have been restricted – he meditated, exercised, and filmed his time in isolation for us.

All through his therapy, Riki would ship us WhatsApp messages or name us on Skype, updating us on his newest take a look at outcomes.

He wanted two unfavourable assessments in a row to be launched from hospital.

“I used to be in denial. I believed: Why does it should be me? Why did I get COVID-19?”

“The physician was additionally confused – as a result of even once I seemed to be bodily wonderful, the laboratory outcomes confirmed that the virus was nonetheless in my physique.”

Riki missed his household and mates – and was anxiously ready to get out of hospital.

After which lastly, his physician cleared him.

He was free to go dwelling – however it was not that straightforward.

Household fought stigma

“I used to be afraid. I wasn’t prepared as a result of I did not know what folks would consider me,” he stated.

“It is ironic – you get a golden ticket to go dwelling, however I refused and requested for yet another day within the ward.


It took Riki Pernama weeks to clear the coronavirus from his system [Jessica Washington/Al Jazeera] 

When he was in hospital, he stated he heard in regards to the experiences of different recovered sufferers in Indonesia who confronted harassment or on-line abuse after being discharged.

He was afraid the identical would occur to him.

“I did not know the way Cirebon society would react to my launch. There was a stigma to me and my household,” Riki stated.

“My total household was combating for me, telling folks, he’s wholesome, and you may see it.”

After we have been lastly in a position to meet Riki, he took us to one of many metropolis’s many parks.

“Actions which are simply regular … exploring, going to nature, these are issues I missed,” he stated.

“You can not think about how exhausting it’s contained in the isolation room.”

Quickly, Riki will return to Jakarta and to work – the place he believes was the place he contracted the virus within the first place. 

Launched from his isolation ward, he says he’ll use his new freedom to assist different sufferers, who’re navigating their very own anxieties about stigmatisation.

“You need to struggle,” he stated. “Do not quit – for your loved ones, and for your self.”

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