Quarantined  in Qatar:   Claremore man shares experience  of contracting COVID overseas

Andrew Hinson said he’s never been so sick.

He was working in Qatar when he contracted COVID-19 and was quarantined in some manner for weeks.

“I’ve never been really sick before that I can remember, ever. I’ve never stayed in the hospital. No underlying blood pressure or diabetes or anything,” he said. “It hits everyone different, but it’s real.”

Hinson, an engineer, said he was in Qatar for work. After feeling slightly achy, he woke up one night with a high grade fever.

“That morning I went to a local clinic there. This was March 15 so the information and tests were limited. The symptoms you had to have to be tested then were fever and cough and I didn’t have a cough, just a fever. They gave me som Amoxycillan and sent me home,” he said. “From March 15th to 20th I was at my apartment with a high grade fever and hallucinations. I’d never been that sick. I knew I had it at that point. I went to the clinic and when they took my oxygen it was way low so they admitted me to the hospital they were using for COVID and tested me there.”

By the time Hinson got to the hospital, he said his fever had broke and the aches were better, but he couldn’t breathe.

“For three days I was in observation, going downhill a little bit. Then got moved to ICU on March 23. On the 29th they took me out of ICU and back to the regular ward,” he said.

In Qatar, he said, contact tracing was in high gear.

“If you were positive everyone you were in contact with was picked up and tested. They were in observation and if they were bad they were hospitalized and if not they were sent home to quarantine,” he said. “I had to stay in government quarantine until I got two negative tests. May 5 I got my first negative test, and again on the 6th. On the 7th I was released from that quarantine but had to go to my apartment to self-quarantine for 14 days.”

He said because he’d tested positive, his entire office had to be tested. Testing was done swiftly and aggressively, he said.

“It’s not political there, they just want to get it gone,” he said.

Once receiving an all-clear from doctors, Hinson was released to make his way back home to Oklahoma.

“At that time there was no ban coming from there back to here. But there was a ban going from the U.S. back to Qatar,” he said. “It was very weird. The airport was completely empty. The lounge was open but no drinks or food or anything. The airplane was virtually empty. I was in business class and there may have been 8 out of 50.”

He said there was only one temperature check on the journey home with multiple connecting flights.

“When I got on the domestic from Dallas to Tulsa they required a mask, but other than that there was nothing,” he said.

After first returning home, Hinson said he was a little worried about contracting COVID again since his immune system hadn’t had time to fully bounce back.

He had antibody testing done as soon as he could.

“I’m not scared now, but I don’t go in restaurants or busy places. We’re not completely shut down but we’re not going to concerts to dance and listen to music or anything like that,” he said.

He’s weeks out now but Hinson said he’s still dealing with some complications, namely muscle atrophy in his legs.

“I wouldn’t have had the atrophy if it wasn’t for COVID. When I became sick I was doing a 5K a day and lifting weights in the gym. The surgeon had seen me before COVID and told me my knee could be scoped but as long as I kept the muscle strong, I would be fine,” he said. “Laying in bed the muscle atrophy took place and the knee became unsupported and a tremendous amount of arthritis was in the knee that wasn’t there before COVID.”

In a message to those who don’t believe in the validity of the virus, Hinson had this to say: “You can get really sick, it’s not fake...I got hit hard but it won’t be as bad for everyone. Some people have no symptom, but it also does kill a lot of people. You can’t live life completely locked down, but you can be cautious. Be open-minded and not so reluctant on views that aren’t your own.

He said the virus has become too political—but it didn’t feel like politics when he was going through it.

He added, “If you feel a fever or body ache or anything, even if you’re just fatigued,—go get a test and quarantine yourself.”

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