I am COVID-19 positive, and in a public hospital in HK for next 2 weeks. Q&A

I am COVID-19 positive, and in a public hospital in HK for next 2 weeks. Q&A. I'm just really bored, it's day 4 and I've not much else to do so figured I'd post this.

1) March 9-13. Acquired the virus in London. Original symptom was a slight nasal drip (sniffles) and a very slight dry cough that only arose every few hours. So one cough every 5 or 6 hours or so, so it was unclear if it was an actual infection or just a common cold. Otherwise totally asymptomatic. That made it unclear if testing would have been warranted.

2) cough increased in frequency (a singular cough or two every hour) after about a week of incubation. Sniffles went away. Otherwise asymptomatic. In London, masks were unavailable. I checked multiple locations and was told all masks were sold out. I finally found a flimsy surgical mask at a convenience shop, and bought it for lack of alternatives. London was putting no precautions in place. Gatherings were still happening. Flights from London to most Asia locations were disappearing rapidly by March 13, when I started to look for an exit. I was competing with Asian students, business people and virus refugees that were abandoning London for HK/SG. Only two flights I could find were either with a 12 hr layover in Mumbai or a 24 hr layover in Ethiopia. Departed evening March 16. On the plane over there were many HK students wearing rain gear and labratory clean gear (I have pictures. They look adorable). Multiple people we coughing on the plane. I remained asymptomatic.

3) Arrived HK on March 18 morning. Presented myself to airport health authorities and said I had a minor dry cough and some breathing issues. I asked where I could get a test done. I was told tests were not given out unless directed by a physician. I was told government guidance was to go home, wait out 2 weeks, and see if I developed symptoms. I argued that I did have a couple of symptoms, but I was told since I was fever free that I would need to just go home. The only other recommendation was to go to the public hospital. I pondered going to the public hospital. I went home, gathered basic belongings and moved into
self-quarantine in our spare apartment (we had a tenant leave on the 15th). I minimized human contact, but was not totally in isolation (still went to Wellcome to buy food). Up to this point, symptoms are incredibly mild, so unclear if any test would be necessary. That's what is so insidious. The symptoms are so mild and 'generic' (who doesn't have a brief cough or two every 5 hrs) that it is unclear if a trip to the general hospital is warranted.

4) Woke up morning of March 21 exhausted and feeling flu-like symptoms - specifically exhaustion, heavy breathing, more intense dry cough, muscle soreness. It was clear corona was in effect. I sought to get a test in the private system and was quoted a total test cost of HK$950 ($450 for test, $500 for doctor fee). But I was also told that the clinic was full for the weekend, so that if I wanted a test, Monday morning was the best that they could do. I was concerned about going to the public hospital as an alternative, because on weekends the public hospitals are much lighter staffed. Went home, went to a feverish sleep. Woke up every two hours. Slept from noon Saturday until Sunday morning. Woke up in an immense amount of pain across all muscles and joints as if my body had gone 20 rounds with Royce Gracie. Really one of the worst feelings I've had from an illness. But by evening Sunday I was feeling much better.

5) Reported to the public hospital on Monday morning 9am. I was put into a waiting area for 'fevered' patients, despite not having a fever. The waiting area is outdoors of the hospital, in makeshift cubicles, while we waited for processing. There were 10 patients in total. The wait to begin processing was 9 hours. Processing involved going into a quarantine room, where the tech takes a chest xray to look for pneumonia. After that, doctor gets on intercom, tells you you're to be admitted, and they move you up to a negative pressure room, again in isolation. They run a corona virus test by threading a plastic tube into your nose and down into your esophagus to siphon a sample. It's the least pleasant proceedure I've expereinced, simultaneously giving pain to your nose while choking you with a tube. I can imagine there's a big market for less-invasive tests. They also ran a throat swab, which is less invasive.

6) Tuesday I was transferred to a bigger hospital where there's more beds, into a common-room where I have 3 other roommates. All of us got infected in London and brought the virus back to HK. Many people fled UK back to HK and Singapore once it was clear London was unable to manage the crisis. We're all on designer anti-viral drugs that they give to HIV patients. So I guess we're all getting the best of care. I've started doing prison-style workouts. There's no place to really get exercise except for the shower room, which is a small room off of the cell where the 4 of us are housed. So I kind of fit my lower half of body into the shower room and do pushups and squats in the area near the bed.

 

I have to be here for 2 weeks, and have 2 negative tests in a row. I've settled into a routine. It's not too shabby here other than the boredom. The key seems to be working out, prison-style.Squats, pushups, jumping jacks, leg raises, shadow boxing. Not enough space for running or much else. I can see why people who go to prison come out jacked. There's just not much else to do, and physical exercise keeps your mind from coming unglued.

I've got 3 roommates. Two are very talkative, which is good. The third was swapped out. Poor bastard had high fever and was drugged into unconsciousness for a week. They just removed him last night and brought in a 17 year old. All 5 of us got sick in UK, if that's any indication of how badly the wheels are coming off the cart in UK.

I think if there's any takeaway from all this it's how important exercise is to keep sane when bored and stick in a single place physically.

We tried to sneak a bottle of whisky in but we were unsuccessful. I did manage to get a knife snuck in here so now we can make sandwiches with tomatoes and crackers. I also was able to get a bag of miso paste delivered so I can make my own soup. Food here is a war crime. You have to have friends and family deliver shelf-stable items, like bread, tomatoes, crackers, apples, and ramen. Can't have fresh food because we do not have a way to refrigerate or cook. We do however have some intermittent internet on our phones and can

 

Can agree, UK is a shitshow at the moment. I showed a couple of symptoms in the two weeks prior, but luckily turned out to be just a viral fever. Covid negative, but in isolation for the foreseeable future. The miss works in the NHS, so unfortunately can't be sleeping in the same room for as long :(.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
 

How do you view the potential bed shortages in HK if the confirmed cases continue to grow at the same speed? Are you still in isolation ward or have they transitioned you to one of the 400 new beds for people who are recovering but don't have severe symptoms?

 

Yes serious bed shortage. The doctors want us out of here ASAP and off to home quarantine, or a quarantine center. I've been pretty impressed with the government response actually. They have a whole task force working around the clock on containment, and they built custom quarantine bungalows. My roommate had come in contact with over a dozen people, and the government has rounded them all up and put them in the quarantine bungalows, 1 person/room in a concrete box. My wife came back from China, and has been on 2-week self-quarantine at our apartment. The government checks in with her via Wechat and video 2x to 3x per day. Others were given electronic bracelets for monitoring their location. Once I checked in to the hospital the health department had a case officer assigned and called me, asked where I'd been, arranged for disinfection of my apartment itself and the building's common areas, and worked to round up people I'd contacted (though fortunately I pretty much had gone into self-quarantine so there were no contacts). Each day there's a press release that announces the new cases, the addresses of the new sick people, The level of expenditure for the city must be enormous.

 

and what if one wants to self quarantine at home? still get put into some quarantine jail against your will? pretty dystopian.

can you tell us more about the potential UK infections? all students? living in dorms? going out to dinners / meeting friends etc? travelling by tube?

ive been flying out of airport to Europe 2 x per week but WFH 2 weeks now and think im fine....but weve been isolated to house and no city travel for family other than occasional toddler class 1-2 a week which we stopped 3-4 weeks ago.

gl in your recovery.

 

Interesting how it deteriorated quickly. It makes me wonder if I ever got it. I had 5 days of general weakness back in early February, the last two of which had a slight cough then I felt better. I simply took extra vitamins and I have been rather careful ever since it became widespread.

2 of my colleagues were sick for roughly 2 weeks recently but none of them got tested.

Either way, how are you spending your days? Any food recommended?

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.
 

We tried to sneak a bottle of whisky in but we were unsuccessful. I did manage to get a knife snuck in here so now we can make sandwiches with tomatoes and crackers. I also was able to get a bag of miso paste delivered so I can make my own soup. Food here is a war crime. You have to have friends and family deliver shelf-stable items, like bread, tomatoes, crackers, apples, and ramen. Can't have fresh food because we do not have a way to refrigerate or cook.

 

Back then, in the country I am now, you'd get tested only if you had fever. I know simply because the guy who was the most sick actually contacted the hospital to get tested and was told that. That has changed now.

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.
 

Hey man, yes I'm fairly healthy; eat right and get exercise.

Actually I was really only sick for 2 days - just Saturday and Sunday, with harsh flu symptoms. The flu generally hits harder than this. I was fairly asymptomatic other than the weekend.

I think that's what's so insidious about the virus - 80% of people will not even know they have the virus and will pass it onwards to more vulnerable people. I could have theoretically stayed at home and not reported to the hospital on Monday, because I really wasn't feeling sick anymore.

The reason I reported in is out of social responsibility; the last thing I want to do is keep walking around as a highly contagious asymptomatic recoveree and kill some old lady next time I go to a restaurant or grocery store.

It's a scary virus in this sense. It's highly contagious, airborn, attacks the respiratory system, and is nearly undetectable in most hosts. I'd wager there's a LOT of people walking arounwho have few / no symptoms, and they won't get tested. And then some old lady will get it and have to be put on a ventilator.

 

I was asymptomatic when I reported to the hospital. I reported out of concern for public safety and not wanting to infect others. I'd like to think even after 2 week incarceration I'd still make the same choice, but there's some times I just wish I'd kept my mouth shut, stayed at home, and wait out a few weeks until I was no longer contagious. Perhaps if there were reliable home tests those who suspect they are carriers could check, and if they test positive they can just sit at home and ride it out until the tests come back negative.

 
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I was infected in London specifically because UK people were NOT self quarantining - at least not in a timely manner (I presume it's better now). In fact, all 5 of the patients in this room were infected in London. That's hardly a coincidence. I saw how there were mass gatherings until very late in the epidemic's development. People gathered in churches, at markets, etc. I also spent several days going to various Boots and even the hospital near London Bridge to try to procure a mask.

People in London were distinctly irresponsible. Both UK and US were slow to self-quarantine.

HK and China instituted self quarantine in late January. My mistake was traveling to UK for business when the reported cases in UK were negligible, not realizing it was because UK wasn't really testing.

I'm not sure I get the question. Is your question why I didn't stay at home once I knew I was infected, since I was already asymptomatic and over the illness? I certainly could have done so. But I think there would have been significant risks of me infecting others if I went outside to buy food, because at that point I was certain I was Covid-positive. The only responsible action was to turn myself in to the public health system, and ride this time out in quarantine/hospital. But for sure home self-quarantine would have been more pleasant

 

Sorry my man, that sounds awful. Me and my family had flu-like symptoms in January after my uncle visited us from overseas, and we all fell pretty sick, high fever, pulmonary infections, blinding headaches, the whole package. We got better, but we now suspect we caught COVID, since the symptoms are similar, and that is a very unsettling thought. Anyway, I hope this things blows over soon and we have you back with us, earthwalker7

 

Wow Matchwood, that sounds awful. I actually got thru relatively unscathed. A couple days of flu symptoms, but otherwise it's been minor. I guess I'm lucky. Never had any fever, cough was very mild, no respiratory discomfort, only a little shortness of breath and two days of the virus kicking my ass MMA-style, with whole body pain in every joint and muscle. But otherwise nothing. That's what is so weird. One can be largely asymptomatic and still highly infectious.

 

Yeah, crazy, from what I´ve heard the variation from person to person is out of the world. One of my family member had scar tissue from two lung inflammations a few years back, luckily antibiotics helped, but that could easily have been a pulmonary collapse. Weird to have seen Death almost cross the door frame, really unreal.

 

That's a great question. I wonder that a lot. I also don't know what's the right way to deal with the virus. That's a question for the epidemiologists and public health professionals not a knuckle-dragging financier like myself.

I think if it was just everyone getting mild symptoms like me, certainly not worth tanking the world economy. I think the bigger risk though is to the elderly. The virus has an 18.4% fatality rate for 70/80 year olds, and that's pretty serious.

But this virus is absolutely going to wreck the world economy, and that has ramifications across all of society. There is going to be a LOT of economic pain from this all around, and it may take years for businesses to recover. A lot of people losing their jobs is going to be incredibly painful for a lot of families. Tough call really. I have no idea.

 

Purely from an economic perspective, above the general value of older people, in many places on earth, "elderly" people are the sole childcare for working parents. So there is also significant economic value to making sure our older population survives. Even in the NY area where many people have "nannies" and childcare centers, I can off the top of my head think of 10 families where relatives (grandparents, aunt/uncle) over 65 are watching kids while both parents work. Some of it is cultural, but it's surely an affordability issue for them.

Of course I look at over 65's as a tremendous resource far beyond "economics" - but when you mention the economy that's also got to be factored in. Not everyone who must work has access to, or can afford, childcare beyond family members.

Jefferies & Co. lost their CFO, if you were unaware. He was 56. I'm not sure the % death for 50s-60s, but those are some still quite productive people. And statistics are not apples to apples, because some countries count a death with an underlying condition as a COVID death, while some count that death as from cancer or heart disease. So the stats are not fully comparable from one region to another. It's a difficult balance, but death is so final - at least after a war there's a chance to rebuild.

 

Lot of time these days I and one of my roommates (Johnny) are wondering if we really did the right thing turning ourselves in. Both he and I are asymptomatic, and we're occupying beds that could be taken by people who have real symptoms. Originally there were lots of spare beds, and I was worried about 3 things:

  1. infecting others, especially the elderly, even though I was asymptomatic
  2. my wife was really riding me to go to the hospital, and I figured the virus has a 0.4% fatality rate, but an angry wife has a 100% fatality rate so...
  3. I had some concern of potential lung effects should the virus rear its head and launch a true offensive

But in hindsight there's really not that much benefit to being here for me or Johnny, because we're both fine and could be at home, there's not that much the hospital can do for us, and there's some real sick people out there not getting beds. Meanwhile I had one roommate that was in really bad shape. They wheeled him out of here yesterday. They had him sedated for the entirety of the 10 days that I've been here. He didn't even wake up for the first week. We didn't find out his name until yesterday. The rest of us just called him Harry Potter for lack of another name. That is pretty scary - if you're a 30-ish year old who is effectively in a drug-induced fever coma. He got replaced by a 17 year old who is complaining about a headache and otherwise asymptomatic. Dude, the last guy who was in your bed pretty much died. No points for headache man. And I'm feeling quite guilty for taking up the bed space. Perhaps it was a miscalculation to turn myself in.

 

Think you did the right thing - You got there early and got some anti-virals i presume so that kills the viral load preventing you from further spreading it - If other people have real symptoms, there will be beds / they'll discharge you - better have you kill the viral load / than you spreading it even though you're asymptomatic. I presume you're from Hong Kong and if you recall with SARS, SARS managed to spread through a building because the pipe were interconnected or something. They also recently evacuated a couple of housing estates of because of this...

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You're right on all counts. The virus in both SARS and COVID seems to be able to spread through the sewer plumbing so even in self-quarantine I was still a potential risk to others. And I would have had to go outside to buy supplies at least once or twice so would have exposed others. Regardless, here I am. No point second guessing.

And yes, you're right, they have given me a lot of fancy antivirals to kill the virus load. I'm on Kaletra 200mg and Ribavirin 400mg.

 

Not a miscalculation at all. Its the medical systems fault for not triaging correctly.

It really is a joke how bureaucracy has completely taken over and prevented competent people doing their jobs.

 

Passing times with bat soup memes I see. Hope you get better soon man. I assume you aren't working in the hospital? How did you tell you're employer that you're infected and how'd they receive the news?