'Strangest illness I’ve ever experienced': Calgary-area woman with COVID-19 urges others to stay home
CALGARY -- Leah Beingessner’s trip to Mexico was supposed to bring nothing but relaxation. Instead, what the Okotoks woman returned with was a "strange illness" she’d never experienced before.
Beingessner was tested for COVID-19 on March 14 and two days later it was confirmed that she had the virus.
"It was like my body was trying to tell me something, but I had no idea what was going on," Beingessner told CTV News Monday.
"Every few days something was changing."
In Mexico, her pain started in her neck and knees. The 29-year-old said she didn’t think there was any way her mysterious pain could be COVID-19 — the global health pandemic that has so far led to 20 deaths in Canada and infected 1,432 people across the country.
She said she wasn’t asked any questions about her health as she boarded a WestJet flight to Calgary on March 12. Beingessner said the screening upon her arrival only included a question about whether she had travelled to China, Iran or Italy.
At home, the illness progressed into a cough and chest pain, so Beingessner started to take medication, but didn’t think it was anything serious.
"I didn’t know what it was, so I’d come up with an excuse, like with the body aches I’d think 'oh, maybe I sat uncomfortably on the plane or it was the bed.'" Beingessner said.
"With the chest cold, I thought 'maybe I’m just under the weather, I’ll just proceed with Tylenol,'"
Beingessner assumed the fever and fatigue was from heat stroke.
When she called HealthLink and described her symptoms, she was told to get tested right away
Beingessner is one of 188 people in the Calgary Zone who have tested positive for the virus so far.
Importance of self-isolation
"The message I’m trying to send out to everyone is how important self-isolation is," she said.
"If you don’t listen and you were to find out you had a positive test, (think of) how many people you would have to tell that you were in contact with."
As the Alberta cases climb by the dozens each day, more people with the virus are being publicly identified. On Sunday evening Premier Jason Kenney said a friend of his, Jay Chowdhury, has been in intensive care for more than a week.
As of Monday, 301 people in Alberta were confirmed to have COVID-19. The Calgary Zone has 62 per cent of the cases so far.