Julia and Megan were recorded among the first 50 confirmed coronavirus infections in South Africa.
The two women who are Western Cape-based business owners recently returned from a holiday in Switzerland and were among the first 50 confirmed cases of people in SA who contracted the highly contagious virus.
Speaking to YOU magazine, 27-year-old Julia revealed it was during the last three days of their holiday that they started feeling ill.
“The last three days of our holiday were horrible,” Julia said.
And while the pair, who are friends, aren’t too sure where exactly in Switzerland they could’ve contracted the virus, they suspect it could’ve been during a night out.
When they landed back in South Africa and the temperature scanners at the airport gave them the all-clear, they thought the symptoms they had were related to travel fatigue.
“The symptoms were different for everyone. But some of the obvious ones were a headache, a fever, sore throat and dry cough,” 35-year-old Megan explained.
“Another symptom we had was muscle pain which we felt for 12 hours.
“We thought it might’ve been jetlag or altitude sickness since we were on a mountain during our holiday and it was just our bodies realigning.”
Fortunately, when the pair returned home, they didn’t make any direct contact with friends or family.
However, after one of the travelers they’d been on the trip with suggested they take a test after he’d tested positive, they became even more concerned.
Testing positive for Covid-19
“Just a day after landing we went for a test at a nearby hospital. We were asked questions about our latest travels and sent into an isolation room for testing.”
This is where Julia and Megan were tested by a doctor, who was dressed in protective gear. But nothing could’ve prepared them for the results that returned 24 hours later.
“We were both so shocked . . . felt a little bit of panic and anxiety because even though we knew we could beat this we still felt a bit paranoid about it,” Julia said.
Since testing positive, the duo are extremely grateful that they didn’t make immediate contact with their loved ones after they landed back home. “When we got back we stayed at home, we didn’t interact with any of our friends. Even after testing positive we’ve been incredibly cautious,” Julia added.
Life in isolation
Following their diagnosis, Julia and Megan have received an overwhelming amount of support.
“We’ve had to find a friend to do our grocery shopping because we can’t do that for ourselves. We’ve also learnt to be kinder to each other, especially during this crucial time,” Megan said.
Julia believes that her time in quarantine has also helped her do some introspection. “This has helped me focus more on myself, stay healthy and put my immune system to the test.”
They also receive support from the department of health. “Every hour we receive a check-in call from the department. They’ve been so supportive during this period.”
In addition to this, Megan emphasised the importance of looking after your immune system while you’re in quarantine. “You need to drink lots of water and stay hydrated at all times.”
Not just a normal cold
While Julia and Megan are well on their way to recovery, they’ve described contracting the virus as nothing like having a common cold.
“You do feel sick for quite a while compared to when you have a normal cold and the symptoms continuously fluctuate.
“You could be feeling okay one morning and the next you’re the opposite but we are feeling extremely confident that we’re going to be okay,” Julia said.
What still comes as a bit shock to them is that the temperature scanner at the airport didn’t pick up their temperatures.
“Our testing experience was also a bit worrying because before we were placed in an isolation room we were in the same waiting room as other patients,” she added.
Flattening the curve
The two have since created an Instagram page in which they raise awareness about the pandemic.
“We know that there are a lot of people who have lots of questions and concerns about the coronavirus and that’s why we decided to create our IG,” Julie said.
“As small business owners ourselves we’ve noted the kind of economic impact this virus has already had. We want not only to document our experience but help the government do what they’ve described as ‘flattening the curve’, and that is our job.”