On Saturday 29th February, my four friends and I were at a day-time rave. Despite the Coronavirus sweeping across the world we still felt it wasn’t a reality. We were carefree, drinking and doing what we always do together: having fun. I had just returned from a holiday skiing and had just started a new job working in a pharmaceutical office.
Rebecca James*, 27, was one of the first people to be tested positive for Coronavirus in Europe over two weeks ago. While the sickness was worse than she had imagined – what shocked her most was the judgement and suspicion she received from those around her. Here, Rebecca tells her story…
The situation in Italy had started to escalate just as I was flying for my holiday. In the five days I was gone, it felt like it exploded. But coming home, I still couldn’t imagine that catching Coronavirus was something that would happen to anyone I knew, or this quickly.
Minus the inevitable hangover that followed the day after the concert, I felt completely fine. But by Tuesday, by lunchtime I started to get horribly achy while I was at work. By 3pm I was really dizzy. I remember the specific timing, because this was the point I received a text from my best friend Julia, who visited me that weekend, saying she also fell ill and was going to be tested in hospital. We’d been partying with two other friends who were personal trainers and they started to message our WhatsApp group saying they felt the same way.
At this point, it was still so early on in the pandemic, we still didn’t realise how serious it was going to be. After all, the government, the media and everyone around me was telling us, “If you are young, it will be like a mild flu.”
My new office houses a total of five hundred people, so there’s a lot of human contact during the day. That’s why, when I saw my friend’s message, I thought ‘holy f**k, I have Coronavirus and I’m going to infect everyone!” I stood up from my desk and for the first time in my life, I fainted.
My co-workers attended to me on the floor, making sure I was ok. While I was panicking about having Coronavirus, they reassured me saying, “Relax, you won’t have it, don’t worry.” My boss took me in a cab to the hospital. I was freaking out all the way there mentally going over the scenarios of what might happen if I was about to be diagnosed with Coronavirus.
When I got to the hospital reception, they asked me about my symptoms. They instantly correlated them Coronavirus symptoms. The woman behind the desk looked at me with wide eyes. I then went into the doctor and as he was trying to shine a torch down my throat, but comically, was standing a couple of metres away from me. It was ridiculous. How could he even see down my throat from that far away?
The doctor took my vitals – including my temperature, my blood pressure and checked my heartbeat – and the whole way through he was so chilled. Eventually he told me to go straight home, stay isolated, stay hydrated, eat healthily, take vitamins and sleep as much as possible.
No formal test was taken and to be honest I think they just thought I was overreacting or being a hypochondriac. They never informed me to come back, just to take myself home.