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

A photo of Calgarian Carmen Lee in a Barcelona hospital taken on March 13. Supplied by Carmen Lee

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

READ MORE: ‘Please take it seriously’: Calgarian living in Barcelona tests positive for COVID-19, under quarantine

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.

READ MORE: Okotoks mom diagnosed with COVID-19 warns about the importance of self-isolation

“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.

Story continues below advertisement

“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.”

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

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

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.

READ MORE: Spain hits grim coronavirus record as Europe rushes to build hospitals

“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.”

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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

Sponsored content