‘Please take it seriously’: Calgarian living in Barcelona tests positive for COVID-19, under quarantine

Calgarian Carmen Lee is trapped in her Barcelona home practising Spanish as she recovers from COVID-19 and cabin fever sets in.

The 23-year-old au pair has been in her room since testing positive for the virus last week.

On Sunday, Lee told Global News she is on the upswing after initially showing symptoms on March 9.

“I realized that I needed to self-isolate. I was a danger to people and then eventually got the test, and sure enough, yes, here I am,” she said.

She said she tested positive for the virus on March 13.

“Today’s been the best day so far that I’ve had,” Lee said on Day 5 of her quarantine. “I started out earlier in the week with all symptoms and now I don’t have a fever anymore. I just have a cough and the lungs are feeling good.”

Lee said it was a whirlwind, with everything changing in the “blink of an eye.” She explained there are fines in place if people leave their homes for any other reason than getting food, seeking medical attention or going to work.

“One minute everybody was fine and the next minute, things are shutting down, everybody is sick. It was just changing hour by hour,” she said.

“People didn’t really know what was going on. Hospitals were being overwhelmed so they opened a coronavirus hotline for people to call if you had symptoms.”

Be responsible, take it seriously

Lee wrote a lengthy Facebook post detailing her concerns about how fast the virus has spread in Spain; she wants people to be prepared.

“So I wanted to make that post to show people this is a really serious thing, and I don’t mean to give fear. I don’t mean to make people panic at all but I want people to know if things aren’t done ahead of time, once it becomes an issue, it really spirals out of control. I think Spain is a really good example of that right now — for the government and everybody trying to scramble to pick up pieces of what’s crumbling around.”

Lee said there were rallies of thousands of people “together in the street parading” in Barcelona and Madrid for International Women’s Day on March 8.

“When we saw Italy and their suffering and they were, I mean, not that far away from here, it was scary and we didn’t take it seriously,” she said.

“I think in those moments of looking at Italy, we should have been shutting things down or at least making it very clear that people shouldn’t be going to bars and clubs, restaurants, movies, not going to public spaces.”

More than 1,800 people have died in Italy since the outbreak. Italy locked down on March 9 and Spain announced a state of emergency on Friday, March 13, which will be in effect for 15 days.

“Sure enough, just after the weekend, everything was crazy in terms of the virus,” Lee said. “So I think practising social distancing earlier would have made a really big difference here but we actually did the exact opposite.”

Her message to people back home: this is a real emergency so be responsible and unselfish during the pandemic.

“Please take it seriously. I know that it doesn’t seem like a big deal right now. It seems like you can still go and have your social life and do what you want to do, but the reality is, is that it’ll be too late if you don’t do something now,” Lee said.

“Just think about each other and think about the loved ones that you have. Make responsible choices, because once it is there, it’s going to just completely destroy everything. So I really hope people are taking care.”

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