"I Was Knocking On Hell's Door": 21-Year-Old Student Recounts 'Nightmare' Of Contracting Virus In Wuhan

In the race of western media outlets struggling to produce a first-hand account of someone who was infected with the virus in Wuhan, Bloomberg has been declared the winner.

One of the company's reporters published a stunning piece from the perspective of an unnamed 21-year-old Chinese student living in Wuhan. Addressed only as "Tiger Ye" (for fear that being identified would lead to government scrutiny), the young man shared the story of his journey from when he first noticed he had symptoms and tried to seek help at a local hospital, from his frustrations with Wuhan's seriously overburdened health-care system and feeling like he was "knocking on hell's door."

Ye credits his survival with the fact that his father is a health-care worker, and that he was able to get some medication early on before hospitals were totally overwhelmed.

"I was scared," he said. "Countless cases were piling up on the desks, and every single doctor was wearing protective clothes, something I’d never seen before."

By the time his follow-up appointment at the hospital arrived four days later, the Wuhan government had locked down the city, barring anyone from leaving to stop the virus’ spread. Everything changed in an instant: roads were empty, prices for fresh fruit and vegetables surged, and residents were unsure if they were even allowed to leave their apartments.

Ye was soon confronted by one of the most maddening aspects of Wuhan's virus response: Since the shortages of supplies and doctors were so severe, officials were forced into a brutal triage, often turning away patients after CT scans showed the infection had spread to the lungs.

Doctors soon decided that Ye's case wasn't severe enough to warrant a nucleic acid test to confirm his case and get him to the next level of care.

Four days into full-blown illness, Ye said he felt like he was going to die.

"I was coughing like I was going to die," he said.

Ye was left to convalesce at home where his condition worsened: "I thought I was knocking on hell's door," he said. And to make things worse, several relatives, including his brother and grandmother, had begun to show symptoms of the virus.

Eventually, Ye returned to the hospital for a third visit after his temperature returned to 39 degrees Celsius (roughly 102 degrees Fahrenheit).  Doctors quickly put him on an IV drop and prescribed Kaletra, a combo retroviral used to treat HIV.

By the end of the day, his temperature was reduced to 37 degrees Celsius, extremely close to normal.

When he finally received one of the rare test kits on Jan. 29, six days after his condition started to worsen, which confirmed he had the virus. Nine days later, on Feb. 7, tests confirmed he was negative, but doctors were still apprehensive: Some patients who had finally tested negative had slipped into critical distress, and Ye was moved to another quarantine.

He was finally allowed to go home on Feb. 12, ending a three-week illness Odyssey. Now, he says he's grateful to have survived, even as Wuhan remains under a total lockdown that has led to serious shortages of food products and other essentials.