CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 ordeal in India 'a trip to Death's door': Taiwan diplomat

06/17/2021 09:52 PM
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Chen Mu-min (right). Photo from the website of the health ministry
Chen Mu-min (right). Photo from the website of the health ministry

Taipei, June 17 (CNA) Chen Mu-min (陳牧民), deputy chief of Taiwan's diplomatic mission in India, on Thursday described his recent experience of contracting COVID-19 there as an ordeal that felt like "a trip to Death's door."

In an article published on Taichung Hospital's website, Chen said when the outbreak started in India in March, he thought he would be safe if he followed proper COVID-19 prevention protocols, such as wearing a mask, washing his hands frequently, and constantly disinfecting his personal belongings.

On April 28 however, he began developing some flu-like symptoms, and three days later he was tested for COVID-19, as he had lost his sense of smell and was having diarrhea, he wrote.

When the results of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test came back on May 4, it confirmed that Chen had contracted COVID-19, and a CT scan the next day showed the virus had compromised 52 percent of his lungs, according to the article.

Chen, who is deputy chief of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in New Delhi, said that on May 6 he began calling doctors in the city to ask about obtaining an oxygen tank because he was having difficulty breathing, but he was told that equipment was available only in hospitals.

His office then called several hospitals, but they had no available beds at the time, he said.

With the help of his family in Taiwan, he said, he was able to obtain an oxygen compressor, which helped to increase his blood oxygen saturation level from 93 percent to 96 percent, he wrote.

On May 8, Chen returned to Taiwan on an air ambulance and was admitted to Taichung Hospital, where he was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 and to have pulmonary infiltrates.

He said he had spent the previous 10 days alone in his apartment in New Delhi.

"Looking back on those days, it was like a trip to Death's door," he wrote. "More than half of my lungs was compromised within six days of the first symptoms."

Several other staff members at TECC also contracted the COVID-19, and the symptoms differed among some of them, he said.

"What terrified me most, however, was that it took two or three tests to confirm some of those cases, which proved that the virus is really cunning," Chen wrote.

Commenting on Chen's account, Dr. Tsung-Chia Chen (陳宗家) at Taichung Hospital said COVID-19 infections can advance rapidly, with the symptoms progressing from mild to severe in a very quick time.

In Chen Mu-min's article, he confirmed this, saying it could be difficult to tell early on whether one has contracted COVID-19 because the initial symptoms could be quite mild.

"It is even harder to determine where you got the virus," he wrote.

(By Chung Yu-chen and Emerson Lim)


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