Calgary woman diagnosed with COVID-19 returns from lockdown in Spain

A Calgary woman is thankful to be back home after being diagnosed with COVID-19 and living through a nationwide lockdown in Spain.


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Carmen Lee, 23, was working as an au pair in Barcelona and diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 13. She returned to Calgary on March 25.

She said her symptoms started with a bad cough, a fever and lung discomfort.


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“Breathing wasn’t comfortable,” Lee said from her parents’ home in Calgary. “Every time I was breathing in, I felt like I wanted to cough because my lungs were very irritated.

“I had friends when I was in Barcelona who had different symptoms from me. Some people had no symptoms at all and some people only had a fever. Some people only had the cough.

“I was really baffled by how variable the symptoms could be, depending on each person.”



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Lee ended up self-isolating in aroom in a house she shared with a local family for 14 days.

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During that time, Spain declared a nationwide lockdown.

Spanish health authorities said Wednesday that the total number of deaths in that country had reached 9,035 since the start of the outbreak.


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“It was pretty scary,” Lee said. “Everything happened so fast.



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“One day… life was normal, and then within three days people weren’t allowed to leave their homes anymore, and it was a really big shock I think for the entire country.”

Lee said it was a shock when she finally left her room to leave for the airport because she had been stuck inside for the past two weeks.

“It wasn’t until I left to go to the airport that I truly saw how eerie and desolate the entire city of Barcelona had become,” she said. “No people, no cars — it was a scary scene.”

Lee described the mood in Barcelona as being a combination of fear mixed with hope.

“People [were] trying to do the little things to bring the community back together when it is literally falling apart.,” she said. “Nobody really knew what was going on.”

Happy to be home in a room in her parents’ basement, Lee said she was clear of any symptoms before returning to Canada.

“I am 100 per cent recovered,” she said. “I finished my 14-day quarantine in Spain and I haven’t had any symptoms past the 10th day of when I had begun having symptoms.

“I’ve been 100 per cent for a while now, which is great. Otherwise, I definitely wouldn’t have gotten on a plane. It feels good to be home.”

How she was going to get home was uncertain for Lee for some time. She said she had no idea if there was going to be a way for her to get back to Calgary any time soon and she is thankful for the work of the Canadian government in getting her back to Alberta.

“Having the Canadian government at the last minute give me that flight out of Barcelona, and not just me but hundreds of other people who are in line with me waiting for that flight, I mean, that was truly a blessing,” Lee said.

Watch below: Some videos about the COVID-19 crisis in Spain.


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