Coronavirus: recovered Emirati implores public to stay home

An Emirati father-of-four describes his experience after recovering from Covid-19 in the UAE

An Emirati man who recently recovered from coronavirus is warning people to take government measures seriously and stay home to avoid suffering as he did.

KA, a 42-year-old father-of-four, tested positive for Covid-19 on return to the UAE from a business trip in Europe, on March 7.

He spent two weeks in an Abu Dhabi government hospital, where he was given antiviral medication and kept in quarantine to avoid passing the disease on to someone else.

He told The National that he was lucky because his symptoms were mild but has warned the public  to take the deadly virus seriously.

“Please, please, please, keep your distance. Avoid family gatherings and heed government and health instructions because, while you might survive, you can be the cause of death of someone you love,” he said.

This is not a regular cold. You can infect a person dear to you and cause their death

KA travelled to Europe - he did not disclose the country - on February 28. On arrival, he said he began to feel mild fatigue but assumed it was due to the flight.

“I even went to the gym which is something I do regularly,” he said.

KA exercises five days a week, does not smoke and has no underlying medical conditions.

“By the second day and third day, I began to get a sore throat and some flu-like symptoms. I took some Panadol and drank a lot of hot fluids.”

His symptoms persisted but he still did not expect he has anything more than a regular cold, perhaps brought on by the flight and extreme change in temperature.

He continued to take paracetamol, even when his temperature rose to 39°C.

By the fourth day, he had a dry throat but the next day, all his symptoms disappeared.

On the fifth day, all his symptoms disappeared but he was still doubtful.

“I felt fine but suspected I might have the virus because I had been following the news and saw how widespread it had become in China then in Europe,” he said.

He booked a first class ticket in an attempt to minimise contact with other passengers and told the flight attendants not to serve him any meals.

At the time, UAE airports were screening travellers from high-risk countries - including China and Iran - on entry and the virus was not as widespread as it is today.

Once the plane landed, KA passed through thermal scanners but, because his fever had subsided, he went undetected.

He immediately called health authorities who advised him to go straight to hospital to be tested, avoiding contact with others along the way.

Stay home to stop the spread

Stay home to stop the spread

“I called my family and told them that I suspected that I might have the virus so I stayed in our second home, away from my wife and children. I isolated myself in the house and had meals left for me at the door.”

His received his result the next day: he had Covid-19.

“The first thing I did was call up everyone I had been in contact with during my trip and inform them that I had tested positive.”

An ambulance was sent to pick him up and took him directly to hospital, where he remained for more than two weeks.

He was put on anti viral medication and tested daily for the virus. After he received two consecutive negative results, and spent the mandatory minimum period of two weeks in hospital, KA was released.

“I can’t say enough about the professionalism of the medical staff. They did an amazing job and I didn’t feel like I had Covid-19. I was isolated but they were always checking in on me and everything I wanted was brought to me.”

The UAE has 248 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Of these, 45 have recovered, including KA, and two have died.

The UAE government has introduced a raft of measures that limit travel and public gatherings to stop the spread of the virus.

KA said he was disheartened to learn that people were ignoring instructions from authorities and were continuing to socialise and leave their homes.

“I know it is hard especially in our culture to keep your distance and avoid social gatherings but this is a period that will pass. You can easily get this disease so please my advice is, stay home and keep your distance.”

He said he intends to continue practicing social distancing and will self-isolate with his family, as the government has advised.

Sunday was the first time he saw his wife and children, aged between 4 and 19, in weeks.

“This is not a regular cold, you can infect a dear person to you and cause their death. If you don’t care about yourself, then care about your loved ones. Just look at the news and see what is happening in Europe,” he said.