The lone COVID-19 case confirmed in Ponoka was former town councillor John Jacobs, who has now recovered.
Jacobs, 61, contracted the virus sometime during a trip across the Atlantic last month. He believes it was around March 7 while he was in Germany trying to make his way back to Canada.
“I originally went to Europe to visit my son because he was running the original marathon, which started in the town of Marathon and ended in Athens. From there, we travelled many countries in Europe,” he said in an interview.
“Canadian tourists are required to leave the Schenschengen zone after 90 days, so I left Vienna on Jan. 17 and flew to Israel. I was there until Feb 26, then went to Jordan to see Petra. Coronavirus was now becoming a serious topic and I knew I had to leave.”
Jacobs’ best option at the time was to fly home through Cologne, Germany then connect in Paris on a Canada-bound plane.
“I knew I was flying into an area that had a high concentration of coronavirus but I really had no better option,” he said.
“I had mild symptoms four days later (March 11), but did not fly home until March 16 from Paris to Calgary, and upon arriving home did the full isolation as required. I did not think I actually had coronavirus because my symptoms were not bad.”
A vehicle was waiting at the airport for him and his wife Ada, daughter Emily and a friend had already set him up with groceries, delivering more when necessary.
Jacobs did contact 811 when he got home, which recommended he be tested. He found out he was positive on March 27. He quarantined himself for a few days beyond the 14 required after arriving home, out of an abundance of caution.
“Coronavirus is the worst virus I have ever had. I know I am lucky that my symptoms were not near as bad as many people,” he said.
“I was really surprised that by the time it was determined I had coronavirus and it made the news as the first person in the Ponoka-area being infected that I was already approaching the end of my contagious period. I am also very grateful for the assistance from everyone and understand guidelines were changing every few days.”
He attributes his good health to his easy recovery, though he can still feel what it has done to his lungs. AHS told him his lungs could take several weeks to heal.
“I am comforted knowing it is not contagious and just part of the healing process,” he said.
“Like all of us, I greatly appreciate our devoted health care workers for keeping us safe and healthy. No one wants to get this virus, but for the people like me who recover, our blood should now have antibodies that could help others.”
Emotionally, Jacobs explained the fear was the toughest part, especially with all of the news reports.
“You know there is a relatively high death rate, and you cannot determine if the person walking towards you, or the doorknob, or the food item you just picked up to eat, may infect you. There was no pain for me, but it certainly crossed my mind when breathing was difficult,” he said.
The other part that leaves Jacobs a bit surprised is that he is now considered recovered and won’t be re-tested.
“I could easily not have ever been tested. With my symptoms, I would have suspected that maybe I had coronavirus,” he said.
“In hindsight, I had it for about two weeks before I found out. No one, including me would have known if I hadn’t been tested.”
Jacobs urges everyone to follow the guidelines health officials have put out to keep COVID-19 at bay — hand washing, sanitation and social distancing. However, he also suggests eating more vegetables and less junk food to build up your immune system.
“Even now, 12 days (April 10) after being labeled as recovered, my lungs are nowhere near healed, but it could have been worse.”