Once it was announced that classes would be conducted online for the spring semester, I made the decision to return to Korea. I was filled with anticipation for seeing my friends and family again. I was coming home. Little did I know that I would test positive for COVID-19 when I landed and be placed into quarantine for two weeks.
I had been feeling a little bit of pain in the back of my throat for a few days, so correspondingly filled out the survey given out at the airport to all passengers accordingly. After assessing my answers, the quarantine team at the airport sent me to stand in the line of people who had symptoms and wait for a few minutes. All of the symptomatic people were sent to a quarantine facility by bus, and were tested for COVID-19. Then we were sent to a hotel that was being temporarily used to isolate travelers suspected of COVID-19 before confirmations from the tests would come in. Even then, I was so sure I would test negative because my symptoms were almost negligible and I had no fever.
Around 12:00 AM that night, I got a call from the CDC and was informed that I tested positive for COVID-19! I was incredulous because I had stayed almost exclusively indoors for almost a month, and I hadn’t even gone to school once. I was almost in denial. How on earth did I get it? Is the test reliable at all? The fact that they sent me to the Seonam Hospital the next day by ambulance did not help. At this point, everyone who was in charge of treating me were wearing protective suits and tried to keep their distance from me. Right after I got to the hospital, I was also placed inside a negative pressure gurney and taken to my room.
|[The gurney that was used to transport me to the hospital.
Photo: Minji Chung]
The CDC workers explained to me that I would not be able to see my family before I got tested negative twice. I would only be able to receive things by mail. They took my blood and urine for further testing,and informed me that I had to check my temperature and blood pressure five times a day. And for the hardest part of my stay: I’d only be able to eat what they provided for me.
|[The meals given out at the quarantine facility. Photo: Minji Chung]|
The problem was that school wasn’t over for me yet. I still had to take my online classes, so I had to stay up from 12:00 AM to 6AM in the morning due to the time difference. I was jet-lagged also, so I was sleeping at weird times during the day. It was especially exhausting to be woken up three times during my sleeping hours to do additional testing and receive meals.But the most frightening aspect was, of course, the possibility that I might get extremely sick and bedridden for many days. I was feeling okay now, but what if in the next few days that I would get progressively ill? What if the virus attacked my body so hard that I wouldn’t make it? This anxiety was ultimately unwarranted, and I recovered quickly, but it was still scary to experience the uncertainty, to be part of the crisis that was taking over the world.
Fortunately, my condition never worsened. After a week, I tested negative twice and was able to go home. On the way home, I felt so thankful for the bad things that had never happened.
My experience had been boring and uneventful, but for that, I was lucky. COVID-19 is taking lives all over the world, and I came out of it pretty much unscathed. The peak of the pandemic seems to have passed, but we need to exercise caution – and be aware of how lucky we are to be spared the worst.
Bellevue Christian High School
Minji Chung email@example.com
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