Verona, Ont., health-care worker speaks out after positive COVID-19 test

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Verona, Ont., health-care worker speaks out after positive COVID-19 test
A health-care worker from the Verona Medical Clinic has gone public with her positive case of COVID-19 in an effort to promote social distancing. – Mar 30, 2020

One of the several health-care workers who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Kingston, Frontenac Lennox and Addington Public Health catchment area has spoken publically about the disease.

Last week, Global News reported that at least three health-care professionals contracted the novel coronavirus in the the KFL&A region.

One of those cases was found at Lakelands Family Health Team in Northbrook, Ont., causing the closure of the clinic. A health-care worker at Kingston General Hospital also tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Although the Verona Medical Clinic also closed its doors last week, it wasn’t until Monday that KFL&A Public Health confirmed this was the clinic where the third health-care worker had contracted the disease.

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Amanda Antoine, a medical assistant and office manager at the Verona Medical Clinic, identified herself at the clinic’s positive case of COVID-19 in a Facebook post published to the clinic’s page on March 25.

“I was in contact with a positive case but wasn’t aware for a few days after,” Antoine wrote in the post.

She told Global News in an interview Monday that she became sick on March 19, was tested March 23, and received her results March 25.

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Antoine said that although she was at work while not showing any symptoms, the clinic has recently switched to virtual care over the phone and online, so when she did become ill, she had no contact with patients.

She says although she has an idea of who she may have caught the disease from, it’s still unclear.

“Somehow I got this bug. I didn’t travel. I didn’t come in contact (with a positive case), I can’t release any names of anyone that I came in contact with for confidentiality reasons, but I ended up with it.”

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Antoine said she was only going public with her diagnosis because she wanted to spread the word about best COVID-19 practices.

“This is a very scary and serious infection and am letting you know my personal information only to spread awareness and importance of social distancing and self isolating at these times,” Antoine wrote in her Facebook post.

She says she has most of the symptoms, but not all.

The scary part is the not being able to catch your breath,” Antoine said. “The cough wasn’t so bad for me.

“I do know that it does get pretty bad in some people, but for me, it’s just the shortness of breath. It’s kind of tricky, but like fever, chills, weakness, nausea, diarrhea.”

She also said she lost her sense of taste and smell, which was unnerving.

Antoine’s close contacts have had to self-isoalte as well. Both her children have pre-existing conditions, so she’s had to keep her distance at home.

“It’s horrible because our our family’s a very tight-knit family,” Antoine said. ”

My hands are all bleached because I’m constantly wiping things down and trying to stay safe. We have the windows open all the time, just trying to get fresh air in here.”

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She said when the clinic announced they were closing due to a positive case of COVID-19 found at the health centre, many people in the community started to panic.

In order to quell some of the fears, she decided step out in front of the rumours and address the issue on Facebook.

“I needed to be honest and tell people it was me. I obviously wasn’t my fault that I got this. I tried in every way super diligent to keep it away from myself, but it can happen to anyone.”

Antoine started self-isolating before she tested positive for the virus. As of Monday, she is on day 11 of quarantining. When the 14 days are up, she will be swabbed not once but twice over two days for the virus, since she is a health-care professional.

Only if both those tests come back negative will she be allowed to get back to work.

As for the clinic — the only clinic in the Verona area — it will remain closed until public health reassesses the situation, most likely in early April.

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