Two first-hand accounts of what it’s really like to contract the coronavirus, and recover. Many thanks to both John-Paul and Tyson for allowing us to use their stories.

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John-Paul Fa, 35

“I got a call from the GHA confirming that my test result was positive for Covid-19. My self-isolation ends tomorrow and I thought it would be helpful to share my experience.

I came home immediately when I learnt that I had been exposed to restaurant workers in Austria who had the virus. At that time I didn’t have symptoms but they came on later that same day. My symptoms were practically the same as for a standard flu: chesty cough, body aches, fever intermittently over a few days, dizziness and a complete loss of taste/smell.

It’s taken me about 1 week to get back to 100% since when I first showed symptoms.  I self-medicated with panadol for the fever and general vitamins etc. My own experience of the GHA has been super positive throughout, helping me along the way by telephone when I needed it – it is really important to let them know what you are doing and follow their advice.

My wife and 3 year old have self isolated with me – challenging for sure but looking at the positive, we have made the most of it. We have enjoyed some awesome family bonding time and tested our imagination to its limits.  The only time I had physicsl contact with someone else was when I was tested.

Big thanks to all those delivery people  that kept up our supplies. Sure, symptoms won’t be the same for everyone and I’m in a good age group to combat this virus but irrespective of age, we need to treat this seriously and fight it together.

STAY HOME. I cannot stress this enough. It will be tough but it is the only way.”

Tyson Hernandez, 32

“Given the scaremongering and fears being caused by posts on facebook I feel I have to share my experience in order to provide some reassurance and curb myths.

Having had the misfortune (although some would disagree lol) of being the first person locally to contract Covid-19 I will go through my experience in the hope someone may take something positive from this.

After having returned from Italy during a period where the country had yet not reported any cases nor had even being suspected of being a country of concern, I went about my daily business the following day after my return without a single symptom in sight. It was not until two days after my return that symptoms began to arise.

These consisted of a headache, fever, dizziness, nausea, lack of appetite and loss of taste. It appeared to be a little weird for me given all of the above were symptoms I had previously experienced with the influenza, but however had no mucus, cough or blocked nose, thus experienced no respiratory issues whatsoever. Some of these symptoms persisted for about 10 days whilst other subsided after a day or two. Plenty of fluids throughout and paracetamol together with plenty of rest assisted with a prompt recovery!

Subsequent to going through a period of ten days and after going through the subsequent testing process, I was eventually cleared of the virus.

The important thing to take from this is the following:

1. This is and will be for most of us a flu, nothing more! Yes, it is accepted that some will have it slightly worse than I did, but many will also have it far milder than my experience. Most need to learn to accept it and just go through it.

2. If you feel any of the symptoms provided by Public Health Gibraltar, then self isolate. Don’t try and ride it out at work or in public. The issue of social distancing is there to protect our community so that health services can deal with the virus in a more controlled manner.

3. If you have an underlying issue or are over 70, do not be stubborn. Stay home, we will still call you, face time you or even go see you from outside the safety of your door. We appreciate and respect our elderly far too much and want them to continue with us for many years to come.

4. Take heed of the advise being offered by our medical professionals. In my opinion Dr Sohail Bhatti and the rest of the medical professionals are being very clear on what needs to be done. These men and women have dedicated years of study and work in healthcare and I am extremely sure they know very well what they are talking about and what they are dealing with. Pay no attention to those groups, sites or persons who seem to have obtained their medical degree in the space of two weeks from the University of Facebook!

5. Take every opportunity to thank those medical professionals for their dedication and continuous efforts. I have in recent weeks been extremely moved having personally seen the efforts of medical professionals, particularly from staff at Infection Control. Nathan Lightbody and Sandra Netto are daily going above and beyond in everything they do. I am extremely pleased to see that they are now being complimented by additional staff members who possess years of experience in this field too. I will always be grateful for the support they offered. True professionals who truly care!

6. IMPORTANT – Avoid speculation at all costs. This does not help you or anyone in the community. It only helps to spread unnecessary fear and panic without absolutely any need. Respect the privacy of those persons who are self isolating or have tested positive to the virus. We can be a very caring community, but I have personally witnessed and experienced how much damage the same persons can do to those who are isolating or testing positive. Remember at some point YOU will be the Covid-19 Positive Patient, and you will want some privacy to recover and return to normality. There is no need to spread messages or images of persons.

I sincerely hope that my experience and advise provides some relief to those of who need it. If anyone wants to ask anything I am happy to respond via private message (do bear with me if I do not reply immediately)


Tyson (Patient 0)”