Ibthisam with his father Yakub Sait, the last picture he took with his dad before he passed on March 28 in Ernakulam. Supplied photo
Dubai - Given his pre-existing conditions including heart surgery and diabetes, Sait was more vulnerable to the disease.
When Dubai expatriate Sait Mohamed Ibthisam bid his father goodbye on March 15, little did he know it would be the last time he would be seeing him.
In less than two weeks after contracting the disease, the Covid-19 coronavirus claimed Ibthisam's father, Yakub Hussain Sait, a 69-year-old former Dubai resident's life on March 28. A father to five grown children, including a daughter and four sons, Yakub lived in Dubai for four decades before retiring to Kerala six years ago.
The Dubai-based Indian expat shared the gut-wrenching story of losing his father to the Covid-19 coronavirus in Kerala with Khaleej Times. Sait was the first recorded Covid-19 death in Kerala.
Ibthisam's father was one among those credited for popularizing cricket in Dubai and represented the Dubai team in the 1980s and 1990s, according to old newspaper clippings shared by Ibthisam.
Given his pre-existing conditions including heart surgery and diabetes, Sait was more vulnerable to the disease, according to Kerala's Health Minister KK Shailaja, who revealed this at a press conference in Kerala on March 28.
Mother tests positive, family in quarantine
Unfortunately, Sait's wife and Ibthisam's mother Zareena has also tested positive for the coronavirus. However, her condition remains stable, according to their son. "My mother is a strong woman and has not been showing any symptoms. We're waiting for her test results to come back negative," he added.
Sait ran a successful electronics business in Dubai's Deira locality and would visit Dubai from Kerala once every few months.
Ibthisam said, "My father was tested positive for the Covid-19 on March 22 in Kerala. A few days before his test results returned, he experienced some mild discomfort while breathing, and we took him to the hospital for a check-up."
After his results returned, he was admitted to the Kalamasserry Medical College Hospital in Ernakulam and kept under isolation as per Kerala government protocols. Given his medical history, in a matter of days, his health deteriorated and was diagnosed with advanced pneumonia.
"The doctors gave him all the medication and treatment possible, and on March 28, at 8 am, he took his last breath," said Ibthisam.
However, since travel restrictions to India were already in place by then, Ibthisam could not go to Kerala for his father's last rites. Furthermore, his entire family was under home quarantine.
Sait's mortal remains were not handed over to the relatives and was buried deep, as per World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols in such cases. "My younger siblings are in Grade 12, and because our entire family had close contact with him, we were all placed under home quarantine. In the end, my father's brother-in-law was the only family present at the funeral as only four people were allowed at the burial site," added Ibthisam.
An entire family shattered
"Such is the impact of this virus and its implications on our lives," he added. Ibthisam, his wife, and his kids, including his newborn baby daughter, were also were under voluntary 14-day home isolation, which ended yesterday
He added, "My father was genuinely active, smiling and going about his usual routines but in a matter of six days, this deadly virus changed our lives forever. He was in Dubai to see my newborn baby girl."
"We kept reading about the conditions in other countries where it hit the most - China, Italy, Spain etc. and never in our wildest dreams thought it could affect us. We don't know how, when, where, and from whom he contracted the virus, and these are questions we may never get answers to," added Ibthisam. He appealed that all UAE residents take the health and security measures, including social distancing and staying at home seriously as its impact comes as a terrible human cost. "Don't wait until it's too late. We can all do our part and ensure that our loved ones and we are safe and sound," Ibthisam added.