(English version of a tale I initially published in july 2020)
I’ve always been an extroverted guy. This is the way I am.
Never shy, no fear. I’m able to approach anyone, and no one said to me that this could possibly be a problem.
As a child I learned some foreign languages and I’m always willing to start a relation with all kind of people, this is why I’ve chosen my job, that we could call public relations.
I studied languages to become a professional translator, but I mostly work as an interpreter in all kind of congresses, both commercial and technical, business meetings, fairs and the like. I manage a team of very professional people and we travel anywhere our services are requested. I organize the meetings, hire the attendants that can be needed, provide drivers and cars or vans, or order caterings for some hundreds of people and all that kind of stuff. We provide everything is needed to give our customers a successful event. So I’m lucky to earn my living in travelling, meeting lots of people from around the world. I can learn lots of new things every time and I take it as a continuous challenge.
Some time ago I translated an app for a software company sitting in Vienna (Austria) and I made friends with both of the owners, especially with Matthias, a nice guy. Last January (2020) they knew I had to travel to Munich and they invited me to share with them a winter holiday, skiing in Tirol quite close to that big city I had to go. They had a cottage in the Alps near Innsbruck and I spend a few days there with Matthias and some of his friends. Fantastic days, good sport, nice people, and friendly suppers at good restaurants with quite interesting fellows.
Finally, at the end of January I had to leave for Munich to attend an important professional textile trade fair.
Everything was going fine. On the way I heard some news: Trump was dealing with his impeachment; they gave more data about climate change, and some information about an epidemic in China caused by an unknown virus. Nothing to be bothered immediately with, I thought.
So I got to Munich, attended some preparatory meetings, I hired some more people, and everything was set for the event. Which went as expected, lots of visitors, good business.
But when I woke up the third morning I had a heavy headache, I felt tired and had some sore throat.
May be last week in the snow with sudden temperature changes had affected me.
Ok, nothing new, no problem: a couple of Aspirines and a double cup of black coffee made me some effect. The event was a success and I had a lot of work. I accompanied two different VIP groups through the stands. I had to deal with the staff about some issues and I talked to dozens of people. At noon I felt weak again, but I rested for a while in an empty room to recover. I had more Aspirins, more coffee and a special ginger beverage a nice waiter gave me for my throat. And so I could pass the afternoon.
Next day I felt really ill. I let business in the hands of a colleague, changed my plane ticket and went back home as soon as I could.
Alone at home I suffered a nasty sickness for a few days and took all the pills we use to have when a cold comes without invitation. As a plus I drank all the orange juice that I could hold.
Heavy flu, I thought. I almost ate nothing that week, but I survived.
One day a colleague in translation works called me to talk about a new project, but as I told him about my situation he came at first trying to help. When I told him about my “flu” he explained to me about a paper he had just translated. It was about a novel coronavirus and he was sure my illness was Covid-19. He opened all windows in my apartment and stood apart from me. He brought me some supplies and helped in a basic cleaning up. Good guy, I owe him one.
Before leaving he made me call to the nearest medicine center and tell them my case: where I had been, how I had felt and so on. Next day they came, took some samples from my nose (nasty thing) and they told me the results would be available in a couple of days. And over all they asked me to stay home in the while.
That very afternoon I had a call from a German sanitary service, I don’t remember the exact name. I had to explain my activities in the fabric meeting, the people I met there, where I had been before. The names and telephone numbers of the persons I had been in closer contact, which planes or trains I had taken, etc, etc.
When they realized that I had been in close contact with dozens, perhaps more than one hundred people, they stood silent and I heard through the line a quick typing. In all, more than half an hour questioning.
No need to wonder about the results of my analisys: at that time I was pretty sure it was Covid. Probably I got it during my snow holidays, and probably I had passed it to someone in Munich. What a disaster!
Just that weekend the Spanish government issued the orders for a close down in the whole country.
At that time I was cured but I could do nothing. I called Matthias in Vienna to ask him.
He had suffered a light flu but he was OK. On the contrary Erika, one of our friends, had Covid and had been in a hospital. I called her and I was happy to know that she was almost recovered. But her father was really ill in an intensive care area. A friend of her family had died the day before. Wow, that was a serious affair!
May be I got Covid-19 from her. Never mind…
This was really a terrible situation, and as I felt better I began to read the news and watch some TV.
Having been confirmed I had had Covid, I received two more calls from a medical institution in Austria, asking me for more details.
Well, it seemed to me that I was just one of the thousands of Covid-19 affected people. So then, how come so special interest in my case?
The friend who so gently helped me when I was ill sent me a copy of a new scientific paper he was working in, about contagion mechanisms and how the SARS-CoV-2 came and infected Europe. It seems that “super spreading events” were key in the expansion of contagion. Cases in north of Italy and winter holidays in Tirol had contributed to the expansion of that new virus. The paper even mentioned the textile professional fair in Munich.
What a coincidence!
But when I read about “super-spreading” individuals, I got shocked, and didn’t slept that night.
Next day I read again the paper and I remained fixing one of the graphs for a long time. The drawing shows a small dot in the center, and a lot of thin lines expanding from it. Each line connects with other dots most of them having no further connections. But some of the dots are connected to a lot more, like little stars beaming rays everywhere. Each of those points representing a super-spreader.
No one has blamed me. No one has accused me. So far…
But I bet I’ve been one of the big stars in the middle of that graph. May be the bigger one in the center.
I had never expected that being extroverted was so bad and so dangerous…
My mamma never told me.
(By the way: I write this lines under a pseudonym, in case someone is looking for me)
esendraga, July 2020.