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How An Octogenarian Afghan Man Beat The Coronavirus

Abdul Hai Qayumi, 80, has recovered from COVID-19.
Abdul Hai Qayumi, 80, has recovered from COVID-19.

KABUL -- Late last month, Abdul Hai Qayumi, 80, began to develop the symptoms of a coronavirus infection. He came down with an incessant dry cough, high fever, and head and body aches.

His family rushed him to the local COVID-19 hospital in Pul-e Khumri, the capital of northern Baghlan Province where they live. After he tested positive for the coronavirus, his condition worsened considerably and breathing became impossible.

Soon after his admission to the hospital in Pul-e Khumri, the doctors decided to put him on a ventilator.

“The virus would have killed me if I had succumbed to fear, but I refused to be scared by the coronavirus,” Qayumi told Radio Free Afghanistan. “I was concerned in the beginning when I couldn’t breathe but then I stopped being afraid, which boosted my morale.”

Qayumi suffers from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a heart condition. His age and pre-existing ailments statistically made Qayumi highly vulnerable.

Yet he survived by religiously following the advice of his doctors. Qayumi says that he occasionally took paracetamol, a common painkiller, to suppress his aches and fever.

Abdul Hai Qayumi, 80, was on a ventilator for nearly a week.
Abdul Hai Qayumi, 80, was on a ventilator for nearly a week.

Qayumi is now back with his family but still self-isolating to make sure he doesn’t spread the virus. He can now walk, offer his daily prayers, and do everything he could before falling ill.

“Our father’s condition worsened so much last week that we were giving up on his survival,” Zalmai Qayumi, his son, told Radio Free Afghanistan on June 7. “We followed the doctor’s advice and did our best to raise his confidence in fighting this disease.”

Qayumi is among the more than 2,100 Afghans who have recovered from COVID-19. Khushal Nabizada, the director of the Afghan ministry for public health in the capital, Kabul, says hospitals in the city are discharging more than 20 patients every day.

“A small number of patients who are put on ventilators eventually too recover,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan. “Some patients are discharged from the various intensive care units and other wards within our different hospitals.”

Afghanistan has so far recorded nearly 21,000 COVID-19 cases. They comprise more than 40 percent of its overall 48,000 tests conducted so far. This indicates that the pandemic is rapidly spreading among its estimated 35 million predominately young population.

Abubakar Siddique wrote this story based on reporting by Radio Free Afghanistan correspondents Nusrat Parsa and Ikramullah Ikram from Kabul.