A man who contracted COVID-19 in the first days of 2021 says while he’s been labelled as "recovered" by Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health, he’s far from being back at 100 per cent.

"The first week honestly wasn’t that bad, I had a cold, a runny nose and a cough," said A.J. Thakker, 58, an entrepreneur in Lumsden. 

But now, weeks removed from the day he tested positive for COVID-19, the symptoms have worsened and simple things he used to enjoy such as drinking a glass of wine, aren’t the same.

"I really miss the taste of a glass of wine. The concept is there but I don't smell anything but alcohol in there. I know that probably tastes really interesting but to me that tastes like salt," he said. 

Thakker said his symptoms began in his back with tightness and soreness but soon got much worse. 

"It shifts from your back to your stomach, you can’t hold anything down, blurry vision, dizziness, random symptoms that come at you that you can’t really identify and your throat is sore and you can’t swallow, your glands swell up," he said. 

Following a positive test for COVID-19 on Jan. 6, Thakker and his partner have been monitoring their symptoms, keeping to themselves in isolation under orders from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). And after 10 days in isolation, Thakker said the SHA told him they were "free to go."

Thakker said while the SHA considers him and his partner recovered, he was surprised he didn’t need to get a negative COVID-19 test. 

“You get off the list of contagious, and you’re weeks and weeks before you’re going to be working,” Thakker said. “We’re both sicker now than we were in those first 10 days.”

According to the Ministry of Health, you are publicly reported as recovered 10 days after a positive test result. In some cases symptoms can linger beyond 10 days, even in cases that are no longer considered active, a ministry spokesperson wrote in an email. 

“The 10-day model was put in place effective Jan. 26, following December announcements of the change in the infectious period from 14 to 10 days for non-severe/immunocompromised cases. This is the general standard across the country,” the ministry said. “A negative COVID test is not required to be considered recovered.”

Thakker said when the province releases updated numbers on the virus, he sees those numbers differently now. 

“You’re calling people recovered, you're calling people dead, hospital numbers are going up and people aren’t really recovered,” he said. “This is a serious virus and it spreads far easier than you think it does. We, since March, have been distancing, we don’t go out at all, yet we got it.”

Nazeem Muhajarine, professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, said studies have found that symptoms of the disease can linger for weeks after the 10 to 14 day infectious period.

He said one in five patients will experience symptoms for more than five weeks while 10 per cent may see and feel symptoms for 12 weeks or more.

Because of this, Muhajarine said when the province releases daily recoveries, he focuses on the seven-day average.

For cases like Thakker's, Muhajarine said the province might want to change the term recovered to "post-infectious.”