Projects from the Digital Health Forum of the EYP

Not Just a Number – an Article Talking about the Personal Experience of Two Young Europeans who had COVID-19.

COVID-19: The virus that has caused a global pandemic has infected more than 14,000,000 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. Many people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have spoken out about its effects — some have recovered, while others are still fighting. The symptoms can vary from severe coughs and fevers to milder flu-like symptoms, dizziness, and loss of taste and smell. Without an official diagnosis, it is difficult to know whether one has had the condition. It was especially difficult for young people, as the virus was initially believed to just affect adults and elderly. While the illness was more acute than the young interviewees had imagined — what shocked them most was the judgement and suspicion they received from those around them. Here, two young people across Europe tell their story in all its candid detail.

It should be noted that the interviewees demand their identity to remain anonymous.

What symptoms did you experience?

“I didn’t even notice in the first couple of days. But then, out of the blue, I started feeling pressure in my head. It felt really strange — like something  I have never been through before. I thought it would eventually fade off, but the worst was yet to come. Then I started having chills which ended up in a fever. Then the other symptoms started kicking in: nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. From the beginning, I had known this was not the typical flu that would go away within a week. It was so much more than this. Summing everything up, it was something I would not wish anyone to go through.” – Interviewee A

“To be completely honest, I did not notice it at first. I was minding my own business, washing some dishes, when all of a sudden, I felt a huge knot in my chest. I was not able to breathe for a couple of seconds, but I ignored it in the end. However, it happened again, and again and again. At this point, my lungs felt like they were collapsing. This persisted for five more days, at which point I decided to go to an urgent care centre. During my visit, I fainted and I was put into an ambulance, ending up spending 10 hours in the hospital. This whole experience will stay with me as long as I live. And not in a good way.” – Interviewee B

How was your experience overall?

“After being initially diagnosed I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never heard of something like this. Just to clarify — this was way back in February when no one had any idea that this virus had arrived in Europe. I was told to have no contact with anyone at all, thus I locked myself inside my house and cancelled all of my plans. It was a terrifying thing to do and I was feeling anxious. I did not want to infect my family, my friends, or anyone. In fact, after some days being locked inside of my room, the symptoms were slowly going away — I was still feeling sick but surely not as before. But after 2 eternally long weeks of quarantine, I was feeling healthier!” – Interviewee A

“Undoubtedly a nightmare I wish I will never have to experience again. I started experiencing symptoms somewhere after the state of emergency had been declared in my country — meaning that we were not allowed to leave our homes whatsoever. But I did not respect these measures at all. My friends and I were always hanging out because we thought that this ‘virus’ was definitely a hoax. While everyone was wearing a mask, I wasn’t. While everyone was sitting at home in quarantine, I wasn’t. Until reality hit me.” – Interviewee B

How can the virus be prevented?

“Being familiar with this virus and knowing how quickly and easily it spreads, I would definitely recommend you to wear a medical mask, always wash your hands or use hand sanitiser and avoid crowded places. Whenever you’re sneezing, try covering it with your upper arm because you don’t want the bacteria to stick on your hands. Do as much as possible to protect yourself from this virus. I don’t think people appreciate how the symptoms feel. You don’t want this!”- Interviewee A

“Always have a mask, some gloves and a hand sanitiser in your backpack. These are the essentials at the moment. Follow the guidelines exerted by the country you live in and avoid public places as much as possible. This virus is so much more than what you see on TV.” – Interviewee B

Is there anything else you want to share?

“This is not a game or an adventure you would like to embark on. This is something serious, something you will definitely never wish to experience. But, as much as this virus affected me, it was harder to deal with the stigma around it. Stay safe and stay at home!” – Interviewee A

“Something everyone thought about this virus is that it doesn’t affect young people. I can’t stress this enough and say that this myth is completely false. I am 19 years old and I suffered from COVID-19. My sister is 12 years old and she also suffered from it. Don’t think that because you’re young you’re less likely to catch the virus.” – Interviewee B

We believe we live in a society ready for anything, but a virus was enough to bring countries to their knees and deprive people of the most important thing they have — the love of their friends and families, freedom and the physical contact with the people they love. COVID-19 is a new disease, so there is no existing immunity in our community. Be preventive and stay home — for you and your loved ones!