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Corona Diaries: Anadolu Agency reporter defeats virus

Senhan Bolelli recovered after 4 weeks in quarantine, says this was small sacrifice for well-being of his family

Senhan Bolelli   | 08.04.2020
Corona Diaries: Anadolu Agency reporter defeats virus

MADRID

I was able to defeat the lethal coronavirus after four weeks in quarantine in Spain where I am working as a correspondent for Anadolu Agency.

On March 11, we quarantined ourselves at home with my wife and 6-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Schools were closed and private sector employees were asked to work from home, after bodies started piling in Italy due to the pandemic. 

On March 14, a state of emergency was declared in Spain.

My family and I were flung into the fight with COVID-19 two days later.

After waking up with a sharp headache and body pain, I thought I had symptoms of the virus. I immediately quarantined myself in a room in the house.

I set up an inflatable mattress in the house and started resting there.

Corona Diaries: Anadolu Agency reporter defeats virus

The fever and headache got better in five to six days after I used paracetamol on the advice of doctors over the phone. However, I did not feel fully recovered.

Over the next few days, I kept calling the COVID-19 helpline set up by the Madrid Health Department.

They told me to call the ambulance only if I was having problems in breathing. Otherwise, I should stay put at home and rest.

When my coughing worsened, I went to San Rafael Hospital in downtown Madrid on March 28. 

I was given masks and gloves at the hospital.

Although San Rafael is a well-known hospital, they did not have COVID-19 testing kits and they ran a chest scan and blood test on me. 

After these two tests, I was told there was a 97% chance that I had contracted the novel virus, but I had mild symptoms.

I was given an antibiotics and told to rest for five days and return if my condition worsens.

Through my conversation with the doctor, I learnt that they had classified COVID-19 patients in four categories; those with mild symptoms at home, those with respiratory failure, those with chronic respiratory problems, and the elderly who had contracted the virus.

The doctor said the recovery time varied from person to person, but it generally takes a month to heal at home.

I saw that only those with respiratory failure were kept in the hospital and other cases were directed to home treatment like myself. 

As my cough and sore throat got better, I was hopeful that I had started recovering. I wanted to know if now I could spend time with my family.

Due to the rising number of cases in Madrid, I had to wait an hour on the phone before being able to reach a doctor.

Noting that the new epidemic was “full of unknowns”, the doctor said in some cases the virus does not spread 15 days after the first symptoms, but the opposite was also true.

Saying that the World Health Organization (WHO) advises recovered cases to also keep themselves in quarantine for two weeks, the Spanish doctor said that it would be good to continue room quarantine for at least 10 more days to protect my family's health. 

I am feeling much better and maintaining distance from my family.

It is difficult to spend four weeks alone in a 15 square meter room, but worth it to wait another 10 days to hug your loved ones. 

During these four weeks, we always maintained social distance at home. We used separate bathrooms and talked standing on opposite ends of a 3-meter corridor.

My wife left my meals at the door of the room every day and collected empty plates and glasses with gloves every two days to prevent possible transmission of the virus. 

We placed a rope at the end of the corridor, so that my daughter knew she could not cross this mark.

I believe the world will overcome this pandemic by being patient, without panicking, listening to doctors, and sticking together as I did with my family.

*Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak 

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