Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 June 2020

Coronavirus: recovered Emirati student recalls battle with virus

Abdulla Khaled Al Haatemi, 20, was taken ill on a flight from America and rushed to hospital on landing

An Emirati student has spoken of his recovery from Covid-19 after falling ill on a flight from America to Abu Dhabi.

Abdulla Khaled Al Haatemi, 20, was one of 10 patients at Burjeel Medical City to be discharged from hospital this week after testing positive for the virus on March 29.

The decision to discharge him came on a special day for the computer engineering student as it fell on his 20th birthday.

He told The National he was hugely relieved to be back at home with his family in the capital.

“It has been a weird experience,” said Mr Al Haatemi, who was flying home from Phoenix, where he attends Arizona State University.

“I get motion sickness on planes and with everything going on, I didn’t know if it was that or something more serious like coronavirus.

“I had been following the news around the world of the pandemic, so knew it was becoming a big problem everywhere.

“I was tested for Covid-19 as soon as I arrived.”

Mr Al Haatemi was taken by ambulance to BMC and placed in isolation.

He spent a week in Tower A, a block temporarily reserved for Covid-19 patients.

Although able to keep in contact with friends via video calls, Mr Al Haatemi said he was relieved to be out in time to celebrate his birthday.

“The first test was positive, which scared everyone,” he said.

“I was told I needed to pass another two tests before I could be released and be self-quarantined at home.

“Doctors suspected I was an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.

“I didn’t feel particularly unwell, so I could not understand how I could pass it on.

“When the doctors told me I may not have shown any symptoms but could still infect others, I was worried about who I had been in contact with.

“If I had given it to someone else without knowing, that would have been really bad.”

A total of 73 Covid-19 patients are currently being treated at the new BMC hospital complex in Mohamed Bin Zayed City in Abu Dhabi.

Mr Al Haatemi has remained in isolation at home since his release, to reduce the risk of infecting other family members.

His mother has also since tested negative for the virus.

Dr Fathi Algiurani, an internal medicine consultant at Burjeel Medical City, said most of the patients under his care were stable, with none requiring intensive treatment.

“The guidelines for Covid-19 treatment have been changing almost daily,” he said.

“It is a new virus, so no one knows what the best treatment is, and a lot of it is experimental.”

“We started Abdulla on hydroxychloroquine as we knew patients in China had a faster recovery that way.”

Mr Haatemi had regular blood tests to check his kidney and liver function were normal, while his temperature was lowered using paracetamol.

His progress was constantly monitored by two junior doctors checking his progress under Dr Algiurani’s supervision.

“These patients were the first to use the hospital,” he said.

“It was strange to have coronavirus patients so soon after fully opening.”

Listen to another Emirati man who recovered from Covid-19

Updated: April 8, 2020 02:11 PM

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