Little did he or the crowd know that COVID-19 had arrived on Estonia’s shores just days before. How could they have known, as COVID-19 was barely making news headlines in other countries? So Tiit and co enjoyed their weekend and returned home as the weekend came to a close.
But on Monday 9th March, Tiit knew something wasn’t right.
“On Monday, I started feeling chills, but they didn’t seem too serious, so I still made it to two exercise classes. But I knew something wasn’t right after I came out of the sauna. I normally feel warm and good for hours, but I immediately noticed I had chills when I got into the car, and then I realised I had a fever when I got home,” he said.
What Tiit would soon discover was that Saaremaa had become the epicentre of Estonia's coronavirus outbreak, and that he, and hundreds of other people had inadvertently been exposed to the virus that has now claimed in excess of 75,000 lives worldwide.
“When I took my temperature, it was 37.5 degrees, so I did what most Estonians do, I drank tea with honey and ate garlic. I was delighted to wake up Tuesday morning to discover the fever was gone, so I couldn’t imagine anything was seriously wrong as the virus hadn’t officially arrived in Estonia yet.
But on Wednesday, I developed a dry cough, which was ironically the first day announcements started in the media explaining what was going on. Then Thursday morning the fever returned so I didn’t go to work. In the evening the fever got worse, my temperature hit 38.8 degrees as I waited 36hrs for my test results. They arrived Friday, by which time the fever had already gone.”
What was your experience like of having the virus?
“I was officially declared the first sick with the coronavirus in Pärnu, but I didn’t experience any breathing or lung problems; in fact, I could breathe really well. I did sweat a lot on Friday, and I had a very strange headache that felt like something I’d never felt before. Sort of felt like under my skull there was no feeling at all.
What did you think of the media coverage of the virus?
“In the beginning, I was trying to get as much information about the virus as I could from the media and news, but I came across a lot of fake news that caused me a lot of anxiety and caused me to have something like a panic attack. I had to go to sleep to calm down. Since then, I don’t read news anymore because I’m trying to live without getting caught up in the negativity.”
What did you do after being told you had the virus?
“I stayed at home as best I could, and the health ministry called me every week asking how I was doing. I didn’t take any drugs at all, I just ate healthy foods, drank tea, and tried about 10 different types of vitamins. Whilst in quarantine, I had the option to go back to work remotely, but it was hard to read and concentrate. I didn’t really watch TV. My partner and I did sneak out for a couple of walks through our separate entrance to our apartment, but we made sure to stay away from everyone as we walked to the sea. It was just hard to stay indoors, even in our large apartment.
To be officially deemed healthy, I was supposed to give two negative tests, but these never happened because testing capabilities were low. In the end, I just went back to work on the 30th.”
Any advice for people out there?
“Stay positive. Stay Healthy. Keep in touch.”