Fahmi Esmail had spent more than a week quarantined at the PKRC in MAEPS, Serdang.
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Anxiety, grief, loneliness… Spending time in the Covid-19 Quarantine and Low-Risk Treatment Centre (PKRC) at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park (MAEPS) in Serdang, Selangor can be physically and emotionally straining for the patients who are there.
But for Fahmi Esmail, the friends he had made along the way had brought him much comfort, strength and positivity as he spends his time in mass isolation while undergoing treatment for the coronavirus.
“I felt down of course, but you have to think positive. It’s sad at first, but whatever happened, happened and it’s best to move on and be strong,” said the 33-year-old content creator from Selangor, when we spoke on Sunday (30 May).
Fahmi had been confirmed positive with Covid-19 after getting tested at the Covid Assessment Centre (CAC) in Stadium Melawati, Shah Alam on 21 May. That same day, he was sent straight to the PKRC to undergo more than a week of mandatory quarantine.
“I have three days to go. They count it from the day you first did your swab test and 10 days after that.” he explained, mentioning how all of his close contacts were fortunate enough to have not contracted the virus.
Sharing his experiences, Fahmi revealed how his body had reacted over the course of his infection.
My symptoms came in pretty late, each day one symptom. First came the sore throat, fever the day after, then I started to lose my sense of smell and taste, then I started to feel heavy breathing and panting. But nothing serious. That’s why they sent me to MAEPS because here they have the equipment to scan my lungs.
Fahmi also said that the medical staff stationed at the PKRC had been very reliable and responsive to his needs and everyone else who’s there.
With thousands of other Covid-19 patients confined together at the ‘DG Hall’ in MAEPS, Fahmi noted his shock when first arriving at the PKRC and said that quarantine life took some getting used to.
“I was of course surprised by the insane number of people here, to the point that there are not enough beds. People have to sleep on mattresses on the floor,” he said, adding that without any appropriate shower facility there, patients also have to contend with long bathroom lines and having to bathe on the toilet.
However, despite the minor discomforts, Fahmi said everything at the PKRC had been satisfactory and personally relates life in quarantine to what people might find in boarding schools.
“Food is served three times a day. Breakfast is at 8 am, lunch at 12 noon and dinner at 6 pm. I wake up in the morning to queue for breakfast, queue for showers, and once I’m done I just hang out with the friends I’ve made.” Fahmi gushed, revealing that there really isn’t much to do in quarantine besides interacting with other patients who are there.
In good company
Fahmi also shared how the companionship he made in quarantine helped ease the time spent away from his loved ones.
Together, he and his newly-found friend shared meals and feels, took leisurely walks, played video games and even prayed together, shoulder to shoulder.
People here are nice, they’re happy and are very friendly to each other. We have bunk-bed mates and neighbours that we share food and snacks that we brought from home.
Fahmi also emphasised the importance of making connections and keeping in touch with people in order to power through the coronavirus.
They’re just normal people, someone that we can talk to, share what we do and laugh with. The key to surviving here is to just make friends to keep yourself sane.
With the time spent living with a deadly disease and after having been in the Covid-19 isolation camp, Fahmi said that the best way to overcome it all is with positive thinking and not giving up.
I was scared, anything could happen and I was afraid I wasn’t going to come back. But eventually, I try to show people that I am actually okay here and I’m trying to change the perception people have of quarantine at MAEPS.
With Covid-19 outbreaks continuing nationwide, Fahmi has this to say to the people “on the outside” who haven’t yet experienced the challenges of living with Covid-19.
I will say that it’s not a joke and not something that can be taken trivially. People have to understand how the disease plays with your mental and physical health, affecting the people around you and makes people have bad perceptions about you. Be safe and follow the standard operating procedures (SOP).
Typing out trending issues and walking the fine line between deep and dumb.