STV assistant producer Cecilie Corso spent ten days in self-isolation after returning on a trip to Asia.
Doctors advised her to exercise extra caution – which she did – but she also grappled with worries about infecting friends and co-workers if she picked up the virus while on holiday.
STV head of news Steve Ladurantaye sat down with her to find out more about what the experience was like.
Why were you considered a potential coronavirus carrier?
I was in Thailand on holiday in mid-February, we moved around the country. I was on a trip with my sister for two weeks. I don’t believe it was classified as a danger country when I went, but that changed while I was there. I knew there were some cases, but it wasn’t an emergency.
The locals were all wearing masks – anyone in hospitality was wearing them. If you asked them about it, they’d say they weren’t worried but they had to wear them. It didn’t freak me out, because it’s quite common for people in Asia to wear masks when they have a cold to not pass it along.
What was the flight like on the way home?
They sprayed a product to clear the air and said it was because of coronavirus. You’re just aware of it everywhere in Asia – they warn you in hotels, on transportation apps and it was the same on the plane. They are constantly making you aware and reminding you not to panic.
We wore masks whenever we were in airports, but lots of tourists and their children in Thailand weren’t wearing any. But generally I felt everything was under control in Thailand – then you land in Heathrow and it just seemed like nobody cared.
What happened when you landed back in London and then Glasgow?
I was surprised more people weren’t taking their safety as seriously as they did it Thailand. It felt like as soon as people landed, they took their masks off. That surprised me in an international airport. I bought mine in a one-pound type store – it is an Avengers mask. It was the only one they had, but we got a lot of compliments on it from the Thai people.
Then you get home. Why did you decide to warn us that you may be sick?
As I often do after a long trip, I tend to get a cold. I was really tired, but was going to go to work. Then I thought about it being an open space. It wouldn’t be fair to make the decision to come in without checking first so I called my GP and they said that I should self-isolate.
Then I was contacted by Health Protection Scotland. They told me to wash all my clothes at the highest temperature, to only use the dishwasher and my husband was to stay in the next room. I was asked to avoid contact with people – anything I needed would have to brought over to me.
‘They said someone will come to get me, and they would look scary because they’d look like Martians, in green with goggles and a mask.’Cecilie Corso, who was tested for coronavirus
Did it freak you out?
Pretty quickly they asked me to come and do a test on my birthday. They were lovely about it and wished me a happy birthday. They told me to come into the car park at the back of the hospital and then asked me to remain in the car. They said someone will come to get me, and they would look scary because they’d look like Martians, in green with goggles and a mask. They came and got me and made a wee joke about their appearance, but it wasn’t scary. They swabbed my nose and throat – a bit of spit and that was it.
Were you anxious to get the results?
It didn’t panic me, I kind of felt the whole thing was administrative. I didn’t think I had coronavirus. But it took a bit longer than I expected so I got a bit nervous. I started to go mental thinking they were trying to find a way to tell me I was the first case in Scotland.
And when you got the results?
We celebrated with a bottle of prosecco. I didn’t know if I could go back or needed to stay isolated – I had a cold and it was practically gone but the guidance wasn’t clear. I mean, it’s February in Scotland – we’re all going to have some symptoms.
You were isolated for ten days before you were told you could back to work. How did you spend your time?
I did walk my dog in the garden when nobody was around – I’d wrap myself in a scarf. I thought I would lose my mind without fresh air. The rest of the time was Netflix and lots of Skyping with friends. I was pretty bored. My husband wasn’t allowed in the same room, we’d text and talk across rooms. Charlie my dog was able to stay with me because dogs can’t get it from humans – so that was good.
This will probably happen to more people – what advice do you have for making it through the isolation?
Don’t stay in your pyjamas watching Netflix – it’s nice for a day but you lose your mind. Open a window and let some fresh air come in. Get busy, work if you can, speak to loved ones on the phone. And if you have to get tested – it’s not scary at all and they were all lovely. No needles or anything.