A London woman who contracted coronavirus during a 28th birthday trip to Italy has been self-isolating since 4 March.
But before her diagnosis she came into contact with several people, including her boyfriend and sister, who are now also in isolation.
I travelled to northern Italy on the 15th February and stayed until the 23rd. I was mostly based in the Romagna region, and there were some cases of coronavirus in the neighbouring Lombardy region, but life was carrying on as normal.
There were some security checks at their airport – I was scanned by people dressed in suits with masks and gloves who were checking temperatures as we arrived in Bologna. But I wasn’t checked again when I left and I wasn’t checked when I arrived back at Stansted on the 23rd.
I was staying with friends for part of my trip, and I think I may have got the virus from them because when I left them on the 19th the little girl, who was three, developed a very high fever and was sick for four days.
She went to the hospital and they sent her home with medication and told her that she didn’t need to get tested for coronavirus. Her mother’s also sick at the moment.
When I came back on Sunday 23rd the region wasn’t locked down, and I felt fine, so I just carried on as normal.
Then on Monday when I was at work – I work in a school – my boyfriend sent me a news article and said people coming back from northern Italy had been told to self-isolate.
I told my employer and they told me to go home immediately, so I phoned NHS 111 and told them where I’d been.
The advice at that time was that people should only self-isolate if they’d been to the quarantined areas (which I hadn’t) or had symptoms.
So the next day I went back to work and just made sure I didn’t hug or touch anyone as NHS 111 had said I should bear in mind I was in the incubation period and that I should ring them again if I developed symptoms.
But I felt fine so that evening I went out for dinner with my boyfriend and my sister.
It took nearly a week before I noticed anything and when I did it nearly went unnoticed because my symptoms were so mild. If I hadn’t travelled to Italy I wouldn’t have called 111, I would have just passed it off as a cold.
The first thing I noticed was sore legs like someone was squeezing my calf muscles, which I thought was odd because I hadn’t been to the gym.
Then I had a sore throat, which lasted for three days, and then disappeared.
And then on the 4th of March I really struggled to wake up in the morning.
I was so tired. I wasn’t coughing, I was just really tired and I thought it was due to me having a lot of work on.
That afternoon when I came home I fell asleep and when I woke up I had a fever. I rang 111 again and they told me to self-isolate.
You have to stay in isolation until you’re tested, so on the 6th March they said it would be fine for my boyfriend to collect me and take me to hospital because we’d already been in contact.
We drove to the coronavirus testing place at St George’s Hospital. When we got there we stayed in the car.
We rolled down the window and a nurse came out fully covered in gloves and a mask.
She took a long cotton swab, moved it around the back of my mouth and through to the back of my nose and that was it.
That was the test. Not even two minutes. And then we drove off.
My boyfriend wasn’t allowed to return to work after he drove me to my testing appointment, but he hasn’t been tested yet because he doesn’t have symptoms.
He also wasn’t told to self-isolate until I found out I definitely had it, and it took five days for my results to come through.
So once I got my results he rang 111 and they told him to self-isolate for 10 days. But he still hasn’t been tested because he doesn’t have symptoms.
My sister might have it, she’s also in self-isolation at the moment because she has flu-like symptoms. But none of my flatmates have symptoms so they don’t have to self-isolate.
Public Health England says you have to stay in isolation for 14 days after the symptoms start, so I’m going to be allowed out on the 18th.
I think the first thing I’m going to do is just go to a park and go for a walk.
It’s clearly a virus that can spread very easily but I don’t want people to be too afraid of it as the symptoms differ so much from person to person. I’m young, I’m 28, I live a healthy lifestyle, I got off very lightly.
But I live in shared accommodation with four other people, so I had to use the kitchen after them and had to use the bathroom after everyone else had used it.
And I had to clean the bathroom and all the surfaces I had touched in the kitchen and had to stay a minimum of two metres away from my flatmates.
It became really lonely. It makes you realise how social human beings are and how much we need physical contact.
If I could have my sister or anyone close to me right now I would just want to give them the biggest bear hug because it’s just so hard.
I always left my curtains open and the windows open just to get some fresh air and by about day five I wished I was a bird that could just fly out the window!
I don’t know anyone else who’s definitely got coronavirus, but I imagine a lot more people will get it and it will differ from person to person.