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Fit, healthy 33-year-old recounts falling ill to coronavirus

Andrea Napoli didn’t fit the usual profile of a coronavirus patient.

At 33, he was in perfect health, with no history of respiratory disease. And he was in top physical shape, thanks to regular workouts, including water polo training.

Still, Napoli, a lawyer in Rome, developed a cough and fever less than a week after Italy's premier locked down the entire nation, including the capital which had continued life as usual while the virus raged in the north. Until that day, Napoli was following his routine of work, jogging and swimming.

He received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 three days later.

Initially, Napoli was told to quarantine at home with the warning that his condition could deteriorate suddenly, and it did. By the next day, he was hospitalized in intensive care, with X-rays confirming he had developed pneumonia.

‘’Unfortunately, you have to live these things to really understand them totally,’’ Napoli said in a Skype interview. ‘’I am 33 years old, in great health, and I found myself suddenly in less than a day and a half in intensive care.’’

He spent the next nine days breathing with an oxygen mask. During two days in intensive care, three patients in his ward died. He recalled that doctors were out of breath from pushing equipment around, dressed in protective masks, suits and gloves, and exhausted from the long hours and strain.

‘’What I saw was a lot, a lot of pain. It was very hard,’’ Napoli said. ‘’I heard screams from the other rooms. The constant coughing from the other rooms.’’

After another week on a COVID-19 ward, he was moved Friday to a hotel being used for patients recovering from the virus, where he is checked twice a day by a doctor. He still can't breathe properly and oxygen levels in his blood haven't yet returned to normal.

‘’I get tired very easily,’’ he said. ‘’If I simply go from the toilet to the bed, I get out of breath. My muscles hurt because I was actually in bed for nine days, without the possibility of moving. So it wasn’t very simple.’’

Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak