KASARAGOD: Ameer was his usual boisterous self on Easter Sunday, his comeback day. After 24 days in an isolation ward at Kasaragod’s General Hospital, Ameer — one of the most ridiculed and vilified patients of the COVID-19 epidemic in Kerala — has tested negative and is leaving the centre.
“What all the people called me! ‘The Father of Corona’, the Man who brought Corona to Kerala. But I knew this day would come,” he told TNIE.
Ameer — because of his active social life after returning from Dubai — was considered as a potential source of community spread. But none of the persons he came in direct contact with —there were more than a thousand and samples were tested for around 300 — contracted the virus, said health officials.
“Not even my mother and son, whom I have hugged and kissed,” said Ameer. “Didn’t I tell you I will infect nobody?” Ameer returned from Naif — a Covid-19 hotspot in Dubai — on March 11, and tested positive on March 19.
But in the nine days, he travelled on a train, buses, attended two weddings, a cradle ceremony, a housewarming, played carrom at his local club in Eriyal, took a haircut, attended prayers at his local mosque, hugged MLA N A Nellikkunnu and shook hands with Manjeshwar MLA M C Kamaruddin.
Mogral Puthur panchayat shuddered when he tested positive and CM Pinarayi Vijayan mentioned him in his daily evening bulletin. Notoriety was thrust on him when the Department of Customs said Ameer could be a gold mule because he has made 14 round trips to West Asian countries in just three months.
‘They said I came home to kill people’
By then, he had become a toast of trolls. When a nationwide lockdown was declared to contain Covid-19, one of the popular faces that urged Keralites to ‘Stay Home Stay Safe’ belonged to Ameer.
A sticker of Ameer’s — in a green shirt and sporting dark sunglasses, arms crossed on the chest and hands tucked under the armpits — was widely shared in WhatsApp groups.
Whoever designed the sticker knew that the irony and dark humour will not be lost on Keralites, and the message will be driven home harder. But Ameer said his ignorance should not be held against him. “People said I came home to kill people. Another person put out a voice message saying had he been the collector, he would have shot me dead,” he said.
There was also a voice clip purportedly of a nurse in the General Hospital that he was spitting from the window during his days in isolation. Hospital superintendent, Dr Rajaram, has disowned the clip saying the voice did not belong to any of his staff. Ameer said he would take on those who spread fake messages against him, once his home quarantine was over.
“For now, I want to thank all the nurses and doctors who treated me sincerely,” he said. He will have to be in home quarantine for another 14 days. “This time, no one will see me outside my ancestral house,” he said. As it transpires, Mogral Puthur has only 11 positive cases, none from his contact.
A sigh of relief
- None of Ameer’s 300 contacts have tested positive yet
- Says he is not the ‘Father of Corona’, anybody can get it
- He spent 24 days at the Kasaragod General Hospital