The ordeal of Sayed and his family goes back to March 27, when one of his uncles fell ill, and the hospital diagnosed him as having common cold. Image Credit: Pexels

Abu Dhabi: For many people, the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle. We don’t know how exactly we’ll be impacted or how bad things might get. 

But for Sayed Nasr, an Egyptian newly-wed groom in his 30s, the highly contagious pandemic seems a never-ending nightmare.

Sayed’s journey with the coronavirus did not end, as soon as he was discharged from the hospital, as he has been trapped in what is seemingly an eternal house quarantine period, because he is one of a 48-member household, all stricken by the highly contagious infection.

As soon as he finished his fortnight home quarantine, his mother, who lives with him in the same house, left the hospital on Monday, to start a new period of quarantine.

Sayed, who works for a private company, said his life has not returned to normal. He and his family, who have had to fight for their lives, feel fear and anxiety, even though they realise that the virus can infect anyone and does not differentiate between the rich or poor, old or young.

The ordeal of Sayed and his family goes back to March 27, when one of his uncles fell ill, and the hospital diagnosed him as having common cold. When the disease became more severe, the uncle went to the hospital again, after about 4 days, and the case was diagnosed this time as an acute pneumonia according to Sayed, before more tests showed that he was infected with coronavirus.

It did not end here, four hours after the announcement of his uncle's injury, symptoms began to appear on his grandmother, who died upon the appearance of the result of the tests, which proved that she was infected with the virus. 

Grandma's death was cruel to Sayed. He spent about 15 hours wandering with her body in search of a graveyard to bury her. He said, “We brought the body from the hospital to a graveyard in the Bahtim neighbourhood, Qaliubiya province, 27 km north of Cairo, and we were surprised by the crowd of people to prevent us from burying her for fear of infection, so we went to the family graveyard in Gharbiya province, 90km north of Cairo. After an argument with the people there, we were able to bury her."

Cairo took the lead among Egyptian governorates in terms of the number of coronavirus cases, according to data revealed by the World Health Organisation, followed by Giza, one of the most densely populated governorates in the northeastern African country.

The data reveals that the Mediterranean governorate of Alexandria, one of, if not the most popular destination for Egyptian holiday makers, comes third, followed by Greater Cairo’s Qalyubiya governorate, then the northern Menofiya governorate, then Damietta in the northeastern part of the country. The northern governorate of Gharbiya came at the eighth place.

Sayed's family could not spend the mourning period on the grandmother, as their sorrows did not end with her death. The strain also killed two of Sayed's uncles, and infected 48 members of the family, including pregnant women and children, so that the family would be distributed to hospitals and isolation places, according to Sayed, who confirmed that his family was committed to the curfew, and only come out as necessary. “We have been washing our hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizers, but we do not yet know how my uncles got sick,” he says.

However, the infection was not severe for everyone. According to Sayed, 90 per cent of his family members had no symptoms, and the most difficult period for them was the time they spent trying to confirm whether or not they were infected, as it was not easy to do a virus test, because they did not show symptoms. But with the help of some people, they were eventually able to do the tests.

Sayed, whose wife is pregnant in her third month, says: “I did not imagine that this would be my first year in marriage, or that my wife would spend her first months of pregnancy in isolation .. I lived the worst nightmare ever, but it seems that Almighty Allah destined our family to fight the virus, and we thank Almighty Allah for this,” Sayed said.

He added it’s a frightening time. “We’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with cities and even entire countries shutting down. Some of us are in areas that have already been affected by coronavirus. Others are bracing for what may come. And all of us are watching the headlines and wondering, what is going to happen next?” he says.

However, he added, from the womb of the tragedy the joy was born. “In mid-April, my family celebrated my sister’s birth to her baby during the quarantine period.

Today, Sayed and several members of his family are spending the period of home quarantine, hoping that their lives will return to normal, despite the sorrows of parting from loved ones.

“We will come out of this pandemic more resilient, empathic, and appreciative of each other than we have been in a long time,” Sayed says.