Prof Shahidullah Sikder, a dermatologist aged over 60, took care of himself as he had never done before, in the weeks of his recovery from the coronavirus.
"Every day, I bathed with warm water and shaved, though I knew that nobody was going to see me, not even my wife. It was because I wanted to feel good, unlike a patient."
"It is very important to have mental strength so that one can focus on his health," Shahidullah said. He went for a therapy that was simply water vapour and had food enriched with protein, minerals and vitamin C in home isolation, without fail.
It has been a week since he tested negative. Now he is inspiring his fellow doctors, friends and whoever else is reaching out to him with courage in the battle to beat Covid-19. Soon he will rejoin work at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, where he is head of the dermatology department.
Shahidullah could trace back the person he got the infection from --- a patient who saw him on April 8 with skin-related problems. Since he was not supposed to treat patients infected with the virus, he was not wearing any personal protective equipment.
"But I had a mask on and the patient had one too. From his symptoms, I suspected him of being infected and so advised him to go for a test."
When the result returned positive, Shahidullah contacted the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research to get the test done for him and two other family members – his 20-year-old daughter and his wife. He and his daughter tested positive.
"We immediately isolated ourselves in separate rooms. It was my wife who single-handedly managed the crisis and looked to our wellbeing."
Shahidullah thinks that not all infected people have to crowd into hospitals for treatment. "One with mild symptoms can recuperate at home. But if the rate of respirations gets faster or chest pain is felt, the patient should be hospitalised."
He suffered from a mild fever, cough and throat pain while his daughter had high fever, stomach ache and diarrhoea. They both took the antibiotic azithromycin.
Shahidullah recommends one tablet of the medicine of 500mg for any adult patient for seven to 10 days, explaining that the medicine was not intended to kill the virus, but rather to prevent any secondary bacterial infection.
Both the dermatologist and his daughter felt healthy two weeks later. While being a patient himself, he prescribed treatment to many Covid-19 patients over the phone.
Shahidullah is optimistic that the death rate will come down eventually as doctors learn from hands-on experience of patient management.
"We are in a situation when healthy people – be it farmers, doctors, factory workers – are having to maintain social distance, not the infected ones alone. So the economy suffered the biggest blow.
"Things will not change if we panic. We have to strike a balance. While the lockdown needs to be relaxed to get production in agriculture and some other sectors rolling, there are risks that must be overcome with a scientific mindset."
In his view, strict monitoring should be in place for screening, testing and isolating people with Covid-19.