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The Most Common Questions For Anyone Who Gets COVID-19 In The UAE

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Amy Jones is Content Director at Lovin Dubai. She tested positive for COVID-19 and was quarantined at a hotel run by The American Hospital. This week, she has recovered and was released after receiving two negative test results.

After the release of the article I wrote about my experience of having COVID-19, we received a lot of questions, which hopefully I can answer for you all. 

Please note, I’m not a medical expert, I’ve only answered based on my personal experience and what I did. If you have any specific medical-related questions and aren’t sure, please head to Dubai Health Authority for further guidance.

Having Covid-19: 

How did you find out you had Covid-19? 

When I got tested and received the positive result. I had all the main symptoms of Covid-19, so I worked on the assumption I had it and kept myself quarantined, but you only really know when you get the positive result. 

Is it very painful to breathe after you got diagnosed?

Personally for me, no, I didn’t find it painful to breathe. It was uncomfortable but felt more like a weight on my chest than pain. The pain only came from the dry cough, like with any time you have a cough/cold, but I wouldn’t say I was in a lot of pain. 

But, everyone suffers differently, so I can’t comment on if that’s the case for everyone. I’m a healthy, 31-year-old who doesn’t smoke, relatively active (ish) with no underlying health conditions. 

What happened after you tested positive? 

I was at home waiting for my test results. So because I thought I had it, I had been isolating at home and was already working from home anyway. After I tested positive, I was contacted by the DHA to check on me and my symptoms, and then I was transferred to the hotel where I could then test negative and ensure I was healthy again!

How many days were you hospitalised for before getting your second negative test?

So, I was not technically hospitalised – that’s for cases that require hospitalisation and for those in need. I was in a hotel that’s run & staffed by The American Hospital. So it’s run like a hospital but in a hotel setting.

In total I was in the hotel for six days, arriving Tuesday afternoon and leaving Monday evening. I had my 1st test on the day I arrived, and every 3 days post. I received my 1st results on Friday and the 2nd negative 3 days later on Monday. I was released to continue home isolation for a further 14 days that night. 

No offence, but do you think you spread the virus to the people around you before you knew you had it?

Honestly, I don’t know, I hope not. I keep trying to work out where I picked it up – as you can pick it up without exhibiting symptoms and then have the sickness. 

However, I was in isolation prior to having the symptoms as I had previously been travelling, under the recommendation of the government, the WHO etc. so I actively tried to minimise the spread in case. I hadn’t been out of my home and have effectively been isolating now for 4 weeks – a long time! 

So, I live with a housemate and luckily she’s not had it – been ill or had any symptoms etc. She has also been in isolation with me as well, as she didn’t want to spread it, even though on the surface she was healthy – so we’ve been a very isolated household for a while now. 

But that’s why it’s so important to adhere to the social distancing rules and why Dubai has enforced this lockdown.

Will your roommate be diagnosed also?

Fortunately, my housemate hasn’t had it – she hasn’t had symptoms and has remained healthy. I don’t think she would have been very impressed if I had given it to her! 

The DHA is testing those who come into contact with anyone that has tested positive to keep a handle on the numbers. So if you have come into contact with someone or live with someone that is positive then you need to contact DHA to arrange to get tested. 

Did you get white spots on your throat?

I didn’t notice this on myself – I’m not a medical expert, but white spots are typically a sign of infection and usually noticeable with tonsillitis etc. I used to get that when I was a child, which is why I’m aware of this. 

If you’re not sure on symptoms etc. the DHA website is really useful – before getting tested I used that to check my symptoms and speak to someone online, so I recommend that. 

If you test positive, what is the next step? Are they taking you to the hospital directly?

So it’s all circumstantial. When I tested positive, I wasn’t symptomatic anymore. I could also isolate in my room as I had my own room/bathroom so it meant I was fairly self-contained. So I was home before being moved to a hotel. 

If you’re displaying symptoms and not well, then you will obviously be taken to the hospital – most people who are really ill are tested in hospital as they’re not well so likely already there. So again, it totally depends on your situation.

In Quarantine: 

Where did you get quarantined?

Initially I was quarantined at home, I was then transferred to a hotel near Dubai airport that was run by The American Hospital. 

Did you have an internet connection and can you stay in contact with friends and family? 

Yes – In the hotel that I was staying at I had good wi-fi connection and was able to contact friends & family as normal, which was great. Even an occasional quiz night happened via Zoom! 

How did they treat you, and what was recovery like? 

When I was transferred to the hotel, honestly I can’t speak highly of the doctors and nurses at The American Hospital. They were fantastic. 

In quarantine, on arrival I received a full checkup up to test my general health: 

  • I received another COVID-19 test which is a nasal & mouth swab – not the most fun test as it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not painful at least. 
  • EKG or ECG (depending on where you come from) – check my heart health
  • Blood test – checking white blood count to see if my body was still fighting the virus, and other similar tests
  • Blood Pressure
  • Temperature
  • Blood oxygen levels – as this is a respiratory virus, this is to check that the oxygen is being carried around the body. 
  • Chest x-ray – again as this is a respiratory test, they x-rayed my chest to make sure that I didn’t have anything there. 

All these tests don’t hurt, and are non-invasive – to get these on arrival is amazing, as you automatically know they’re doing the best to treat you and make sure that you are healthy or at least getting better. 

Every day, twice a day, the nurses came and took my vitals, which consisted of blood pressure, oxygen saturation and temperature. 

Every three days I received – blood tests and another COVID-19 test. They were doing x-rays, however as I was asymptomatic and my first x-ray was negative, I personally decided not to have any further x-rays as I didn’t want the additional radiation. However, take guidance from your doctor if you’re not sure about this – this was a personal thing to me. 

Recovery:  To be honest, I felt I did most of the recovery at home – I got out of the worst of the symptoms fairly quickly, but it was just some of the ‘leftover’ symptoms like fatigue, taste/smell etc. that lingered. But recovery has been fine – I’ve listened to my body, rested, kept fluids up and just let myself have time to feel better. 

What is the type of food you receive? 

So, although I was in a hotel it was being run by the hospital, so was typical hospital food. 

I received three meals a day – quite a lot of food. Breakfast was typically a cooked meal, fruit, yoghurt, lunch/dinner – a rice-based dish with a meat/veg option, desert etc. 

Personally, I’m not a great fan of hospital food, so I did order Deliveroo a couple of times! Yes, they do allow deliveries. The drivers can’t come upstairs for obvious reasons, so it’s still very safe for them etc. but I could order in. 

Before going to the hotel, I was actually told to take some snacks in with me – so I also had a mini stock of home comforts which was great!

How have you felt since you’ve been in isolation?

For me personally, I’ve been in general okay. It’s been hard at times, especially when I had to leave my home and go to the hotel – that was tough. 

But, because I was ill and in bed, I kind of didn’t notice the isolation. But when I felt better, I personally continued to work as it gave me structure to my day, I spoke to my family & family almost every day, with a quiz via zoom in the mix too. 

I have also got really addicted to jigsaw puzzles, I read more and am now trying to learn a language – very poorly if I’m honest. I’m trying to use this time to my advantage, rather focus on the negative, look at this as time I’ve never had before. So trying to keep busy, my mind active, so I don’t focus on the fact I’m isolated in a room. 

I think it’s sometimes tougher for people who aren’t ill-being stuck in their homes etc. I think being conscious of your mental health is vital in times like this – if you’re struggling, now’s the time to reach out to anyone you know that can help, a friend that will make you feel better, a family member you can offload to. This is not an easy thing to go through, just know you’re not on your own and if you are struggling or know someone that you think is – reach out. 

FAQs: 

Is the healthcare & hospital stay free? 

Yes – Although I had to give my insurance details and sign in at the hotel, that was purely for information purposes. All the healthcare and stay that I received was free. 

How long did it take you to get cured?

Probably about 10 days to get rid of the majority of symptoms. The negative test came through after about 3 weeks. 

How did you get it?

Honestly, I have no idea! That’s the problem with this virus, it can incubate before showing symptoms. One of the reasons why we’re in lockdown at the moment, so they can contain it. 

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