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Young Edmontonians who contracted coronavirus say ‘no one is immune’

Young COVID-19 patients in Alberta warn the virus doesn’t just attack the elderly
WATCH ABOVE: The youngest person in Canada to succumb to COVID-19 was a 20-year-old Alberta woman, and her death is a reminder that it isn't just older populations being affected. Reporter Sarah Komadina spoke with a pair in their 20s and 30s who are recovering from the virus and has their story.

A couple of young Edmontonians have a warning for others their age after contracting the novel coronavirus.

“We feel it’s imperative that people be much more concerned even within our respectfully more young demographic,” Kyle Anderson said.

“It was a horrible experience to go through.”

Anderson, 32, and his 25-year-old girlfriend, Carlyna Greschuk, say they are both still recovering from COVID-19 after they began to feel unwell in mid-March.

At first, Greschuk presumed it might have been seasonal allergies, but then the symptoms shifted to be more flu-like, with body shakes, aches and chills. Anderson said his symptoms started with difficulty swallowing.

READ MORE: Bedridden for days, young Canadians with COVID-19 say illness is ‘no joke’

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The pair called Alberta Health Services the next day and were told to monitor their symptoms. One week later, they said the symptoms got much worse.

“It really resonated in my chest quite heavily,” Anderson said. “Shortness of breath, problems taking deep breaths… fever.”

“It was getting more severe for us,” Greschuk said, adding she has preexisting conditions including Hashimoto’s and thyroiditis.

READ MORE: This is what can happen to your lungs when you have coronavirus

A few days later, the pair said health officials told them to come in for testing.

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Greschuk said AHS told her she likely contracted the virus first — either from co-workers who had just returned from international travel, or from the grocery store or perhaps a gas pump. She then spread it to Anderson.

The pair said their symptoms were quite different — with Anderson’s presenting more as shortness of breath, zero energy and a deep cough. Greschuk said she didn’t get a cough, but lost her sense of taste and smell.

READ MORE: Saskatoon woman had loss of smell, taste before positive COVID-19 test

Family and friends told them they were surprised they contracted the virus.

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“Just as a younger individual, I didn’t think that it was likely to hit home so close,” Anderson said.

“No one is immune.”

The youngest person to have died from COVID-19 in Canada as of Tuesday afternoon was a woman in her 20s in the Edmonton zone. Her death was announced by Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw last Friday. Hinshaw said it wasn’t clear whether the woman had any preexisting health conditions.

“This is a tragic reminder that it is not only the elderly or those with underlying conditions who are at risk,” she stressed.

READ MORE: Alberta man who died from COVID-19 remembered as a mentor and jokester

Hinshaw said Friday she’s heard questions about whether we should try to let spread happen in young, healthy groups to try to increase the population’s immunity over time, but stressed there’s no way to know who will become severely ill.

“Some people who are young and healthy will go on to have severe disease and even die,” she said.

“So until we have more information about who may be at the greatest risk and more evidence about treatments, the best way to prevent severe illness is for all of us to perform physical distancing, to stay home when possible, to avoid non-essential activities.”

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Hinshaw says community-transmitted cases in Alberta remain constant
Hinshaw says community-transmitted cases in Alberta remain constant

Anderson and Greschuk said Monday they finally started feeling better about four days prior.

“We’ve made a personal choice to just ensure isolation for at least a few days thereafter, just to make sure we aren’t potentially contracting it to anyone else,” Anderson said.

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