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‘I thought I would not recover’: COVID-19 survivors recount their ordeals - Daily News Egypt

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‘I thought I would not recover’: COVID-19 survivors recount their ordeals

'My 65-year-old mother spent 22 days at quarantine hospital and was then discharged,' says a survivor’s daughter 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread pain and fear of infection or loss of loved ones, as over 7 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus. Of that figure, 3.4 million people, or 48.8% of total infections, have recovered. The global fatality rate due to the virus stands at 406,469 people.  


Whilst some people experience relatively mild symptoms, others show no symptoms at all, and those with severe or critical symptoms have to be hospitalised and quarantined. 


In Egypt, the recovery rate is relatively low. Of the country’s total confirmed number of cases, which currently stands at 34,079 a total of 8,961 people, or 26.3%, have recovered. There have been a total of 1,237 fatalities nationwide so far.  


Patients with mild symptoms of the coronavirus are required to self-isolate at home. Egypt’s Ministry of Health announced self-isolation instructions, and said it has provided patients with bags of preventive supplies and follow-up cards. 


About 85% of Egypt’s coronavirus infections have recovered without receiving medical treatment, as they showed mild symptoms, John Jabbour, World Health Organization (WHO) representative in Egypt, said in April. 


Everyone who has contracted the virus has a story to tell, whether they recovered from the coronavirus at home isolation or at a quarantine hospital. Those stories are full of fear, pain, uncertainty, and sometimes hope. 


Stories of coronavirus recovery are not limited to a specific age, either. There are elderly people with a history of chronic diseases who have recovered, despite this group appearing to be more vulnerable to the virus. There are also young people who have contracted the virus, although this certain age group once thought they were immune to it. 


The WHO said that older people are at highest risk of the coronavirus, although it hastened to add that “young people are not invincible.” It noted that 10-15% of people under 50 have moderate to severe infection.  


Rasha, who asked for only her first name to be used, a 40-year-old teacher from Alexandria, told Daily News Egypt about her experience with the pandemic.

She has suffered from asthma since childhood. When she experienced what she thought was an asthma attack, she headed to a doctor.

“He said it was bronchitis, but I asked him, is it COVID-19? He told me it might be, but we cannot be sure without a PCR test,” she said.  


Rasha took her medicine, but symptoms persisted. She was afraid of going to a fever hospital to have a PCR test because she was unsure if she was infected or not.

She also feared that she could contract the virus at the hospital. Rasha said that she had all the symptoms of the virus, including chest pains, a dry cough, shortness of breath, and a loss of smell and taste. Her temperature, however, remained lower than 38 degrees.


“It is terrifying to head to a [fever] hospital these days, as I could contract the virus [there] even if I was not infected. I feel that self-isolation is safer for me, especially as I had moderate symptoms,” she said. 


Instead, Rasha resorted to Ahalyna Corona Care, an online hospital offering medical consultations and follow-ups for mild to moderate cases of the virus that are in self-isolation at home. She contacted one of the initiative’s doctors, Dr Hani Abdul Hamid, who followed her case. 


Rasha had to get a nebulizer, a piece of medical equipment that is used by patients with asthma or other respiratory conditions to administer the medication directly and quickly to the lungs. As she lives with her parents, she isolated herself in her room for over two weeks. She and her mother wore face masks when Rasha received her meals.  


Rasha’s doctor asked her to stay at home for a further two weeks after recovery, before returning to work.

“I informed my manager that I was infected. I do not know how people will receive me, but I can imagine what it will be like, as most people treat coronavirus patients as if they are ‘infested’. I feel that we should not hide the coronavirus infection. It is our social responsibility. People have to speak up if they have symptoms because it could be coronavirus. They have to protect their community and isolate themselves if they do not need to be hospitalised,” Rasha narrated.


She added that people have to fear for themselves and for their loved ones, and not to underestimate any symptoms. She noted, “We have to be careful, but not to panic.”


“I have lived in terrible fear that I have never experienced before. You fear something you do not know, something you do not know when it would end,” she said. “When I began to recover, I said to myself: there is hope that we can recover from coronavirus. It is not impossible. Yes, it is painful psychologically and physically, but it happens that people recover.”  


22 days in a quarantine hospital 


Zainab, a 65-year-old woman from Cairo, recovered from the coronavirus after spending 22 days at a quarantine hospital, her daughter Safaa told Daily News Egypt. 


“We do not know the source of infection. She lives with my father and she may have contracted the virus from a delivery man or from any family member who had the virus but with no symptoms. We really do not know,” Safaa said. 


Zainab has been suffering from a chest allergy, so when she had a cough and a slight fever, Safaa and her family thought this might be related to the allergy.

“But when she suffered shortness of breathing, and symptoms worsened, we decided to take an action,” Safaa added. 


Zainab had a blood test and a CT scan that confirmed a positive coronavirus diagnosis.

“We headed to Imbaba Fever hospital and she had a PCR test,” Safaa said, “But we waited for three days until the results showed, and this is a very long period for a person whose condition is developing rapidly.”


“After she tested positive for the virus she was transferred to a quarantine hospital in Kafr El-Zayat, because we found no places for isolation in Cairo or Giza,” Safaa added.


Zainab spent a total of 22 days in the hospital.

“The isolation room was not well prepared for a patient, as there were plumbing problems and cleaning issues, but we made some contacts and the situation got better,” Safaa noted.


Newlyweds forced apart due to COVID-19


Hassan, 26, was among those quarantined in an isolation hospital in Zagazig after testing positive for the coronavirus.

“He has recovered and is waiting for the last PCR test to confirm his recovery. He is getting better,” his wife, who preferred not to be named, told Daily News Egypt. 


“We do not know from whom he contracted the virus, as he was going to his workplace in his private car wearing a face mask. There are coronavirus infections among his colleagues at work, but we are not sure if he contracted the virus from any of them,” she said. 


“He had a fever and thought he had caught a cold, but afterwards the symptoms worsened and he was transferred to a quarantine hospital,” his wife added. “These are hard times. We are a newly married couple, as we just got married two months ago. I hope he will return home soon.”


COVID-19 stories on social media

On social media, many Egyptians have shared their stories of recovery from the coronavirus. Some stories showed even a whole family can be infected. 


A female Facebook user, who was infected with the coronavirus along with her family, spoke of her experience after her recent recovery.

“COVID-19 is a dangerous enemy. You could experience loss of smell and taste as well as other symptoms that include fever and shortness of breath,” she said. “The most important thing to combat COVID-19 is to maintain high spirits and to not allow the virus to defeat you or affect your psychological well-being.” 


Another female Facebook user wrote, “My grandparents and other family members were discharged from hospital after recovering from the coronavirus.” 


On another positive endnote, the director of Esna Specialized Hospital said last week that two elderly patients, aged 75 and 85, recovered from the coronavirus and were discharged from the quarantine



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