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I thought it was a cold-then I entered history

By WANG MINGJIE in London | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-24 09:46
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Wang Mingjie

Editor's note: This news column showcases stories from around the world that bring a touch of positivity to the fight against the deadly coronavirus.

For me, it all began with a sore throat followed by a stuffy nose. I didn't think too much about it, other than possibly having caught a cold, as my symptoms were nothing like those for the coronavirus-a high temperature, continuous cough or loss of senses like smell and taste.

Still, I thought it was sensible to have a COVID-19 test. The following day, now experiencing some oral lesions and light headaches, I called in sick at the London bureau of China Daily. Shortly afterward, the bombshell landed-my test result came back as positive, meaning I had contracted COVID-19.

In a state of denial, I tried to contradict the fact that I had caught the virus, smelling the contents of the whisky bottle, tasting the soy sauce dip, and even savoring the "Old Grandma" chili oil-all of which indicated my sense of taste was still intact. Surely the result was a mistake, I thought.

For quite a while, I gazed at the word "positive", as if the result would miraculously alter the longer I stared at it. Obviously, it did not. I began to regret my own previous thinking that "I am young, sportive, and a regular marathon runner, so if even I am infected with the virus, I should be fine …" What if I'm not? My breathing became faster as my brain was racing through the potential consequences of the illness.

"Do I need to be hospitalized (like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was) and given oxygen support in the intensive care unit? Or even worse, would I end up like one of some 68,000 people in the United Kingdom who have lost their lives as a result of COVID-19? Should I tell my parents in China? How will my mother react? What do I have to do now?"

As part of the government's Test and Trace scheme, I had to review my recent activities in the days prior to receiving my result, to identify when and where I could potentially have got infected, and the people with whom I came into contact so that I could notify them of my result. The questions tumbled into my head: "Was it when I went to the GP(general practitioner) clinic to check out my knee, or during my visit to the supermarket for grocery shopping, or even the weekend outdoor running with my support bubble?"

Undoubtedly, it was the right thing to do to inform the people I have been in contact with while being potentially infectious, and I did so. But I cannot deny, there was a moment of unwillingness when I felt a bit ashamed and anxious to make such a move.

Psychological pressure

As an employee, I had the obligation to inform my employer. While my editor was going through the routine procedure to query about my situation, I confessed to him: "Knowing that it is COVID-19, I felt more of a psychological strain than a physical one." But I was confident to tell him that I would be back at work soon.

Sadly, that did not happen as the illness turned out to be more convoluted than I had imagined. Although I did not have a fever, I did suffer from some lightheadedness and tingling sensations in my head.

A few days later, I lost my sense of taste, and no matter how many spoonfuls of "Old Grandma" I added to my dish, I could not detect even the slightest of flavors, except the plain texture of the ingredients.

Thankfully, the loss of taste was temporary and all the major discomfort started to dispel after a week, and now I am recovered. On reflection, the main take-away for me is to be patient and let the virus run its own course. I was hoping to "beat "Prince Charles in terms of his seven-day recovery time, but again it did not happen, and I later realized that youth and fitness do not necessarily mean a quick recovery. The virus interacts with everybody differently.

It was a few days of challenges, forming part of an unforgettable chapter in my life that I can place in the broader course of human history.

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