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Wendy Hockings and Angus Thornton Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: It’s been a Happy Easter for Australian couple Wendy Hockings, 55 and Angus Thornton, 57, who are delighted to fly home to Australia on Tuesday, after a month-long COVID-19 saga in Dubai.

The couple who had left their home in Alice Springs In October on a holiday through Jordan, Turkey, Eastern Europe, Spain, Italy and the UK were on a flight from London to Melbourne on March 12 with a three-day transit stay in Dubai. This is when Wendy was picked up by DXB’s thermal scanner with high fever and after a test that came positive for COVID-19 was hospitalised in the isolatin ward at the private Prime Hospital. Thornton too, subsequently tested positive, and was admitted to the same hospital. The couple completed their 14-day post-treatment quarantine – Wendy on April 9 and Angus on April 11 - and will be returning home tomorrow. They will taking an Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne in the afternoon and thereafter a connecting flight to their home in Alice Springs.

Looking forward to going home

Both Hockings, an occupational therapist and Thornton, a professional manager at a private organisation, told Gulf News they are looking forward to being reunited with their two sons aged 22 and 25. They face an additional 14-day quarantine once they land in Melbourne and yet another 14 days when they take a connecting flight to Alice Springs. “I don’t think that is too much, all the people on this flight will have to be quarantined at a hotel. But a month after that, by May 14, we will finally be home and both of us will be able to resume work, even if it is remote working,” said Hockings

“It has been quite an emotional time for us and despite the wonderful treatment and help we received here, we are keen to get back home. In all these days, we did not allow ourselves to dwell on the thoughts of home, but now we are looking forward to meeting our sons, our friends and family,” said Thornton.

The couple who have been living in a two-bedroom hotel apartment were able to quarantine themselves in one room each, after being discharged from hospital when they had three consecutive nasal swabs that came back negative for COVID 19.

“We have been in touch with the hospital every single day; we record our temperatures and report to our doctor about our progress,” said Hockings.

Dealing with fatigue

The biggest post-treatment side effect for Hockings was fatigue. “I felt very tired and exhausted and slept through the quarantine period. My doctors asked me to have a lot of healthy, wholesome food. So I kept myself busy cooking, reading, watching movies, listening to podcasts and talking to a lot of people back home. Every single day we spoke to our doctors, to representatives of the Australian Consulate who were quite helpful and kind and actually told us about this flight,” added Hockings.

Unforgettable experience

Thornton said he was looking forward to getting out of confinement and taking a long walk near his home in Alice Springs. “Of course, there are lockdown conditions there too, but we are allowed to walk and also exercise and take in the fresh air. I am looking forward to meeting my friends and family, of course with due social distancing rules in place.”

Both Wendy and Thornton said they received very good care at the hospital and were given appropriate medication, post discharge support and continuous monitoring.

“I am really overjoyed to be going home, but have to thank the hospital and hotel staff for being so supportive. It’s going to be an unforgettable experience for us,” said Hockings.

Dr Adil Mohammad Yasin Al Sisi, Chief Medical Officer at Prime Hospital, told Gulf News: “We followed the Dubai Health Authority treatment protocol in managing these two patients . This protocol is in line with the WHO and CDC protocols and involved administration of antibiotics, anti virals and Hydroxychloroquine. Besides medical treatment we provide psychological counseling and support to the couple and only after they tested negative in three consecutive swabs were they released into a hotel quarantine. Throughout the quarantine we maintained a steady communication with them, taking down readings of their vital parameters which was well within the prescribed limits. We are happy to see both of them return home healthy and happy.”