‘Don’t downplay Corona illness’

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Those who believe the Corona virus isn’t any worse than the flu “should have their heads examined,” claims top Norwegian jazz musician Nils Petter Molvær. Both he and Norway’s reigning World Cup skiing champion, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, recently fell ill with Covid-19 and are glad they lived to tell about it.

Jazz musician Nils Petter Molvær, shown here with his trumpet at a music festival in Oslo last year, is now blasting all those who don’t take the Corona virus seriously. PHOTO: Wikipedia/Tore Sætre

“This is not any influensa, it’s bloody serious,” Molvær told newspaper Dagsavisen after two hospital stays during the past three weeks.

Kilde, more than 30 years younger than Molvær and a top athlete, couldn’t agree more. He now admits to being scared after he tested positive last month, became ill and still isn’t sure what long-lasting effects the virus may have on his athletic performance.

Neither Molvær nor Kilde know the source of their infection, but both were confirmed with Covid-19 after arriving back in Norway from, respectively, performing at a concert in Germany and skiing in a race in Austria. Since infection control measures were strict at both venues, each thinks he must have been exposed during the trip home.

‘Must be a mistake’
Kilde, age 28 and from Lommedalen just outside Oslo, won the men’s overall World Cup in alpine skiing this past season. Last month, just after racing again in the season opener in Sölden, Kilde underwent routine testing when he arrived back in Norway. The result was positive.

“I thought right away that there must be a mistake,” Kilde told news bureau NTB last week when he carefully could start exercising again. “The symptoms didn’t come until three or four days later.

Norwegian downhill racer and World Cup champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde had a scary experience with Covid-19, too. PHOTO: Wikipedia

“That’s what makes this so scary,” Kilde added. “There are very many people going around with infection without knowing it. You don’t get the symptoms until it’s too late, and they’ve already been with lots of other people.”

Molvær’s experience was just as baffling, but somewhat different. The 60-year-old jazz trumpeter, composer and record producer voluntarily tested himself after he landed at Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen when returning from a concert in Saarbrücken in Germany. The results were negative, but a few days later, Molvær began to feel ill with what he thought was a cold. He was tested again, on October 15, and then the results were positive.

The veteran trumpeter with solid lung capacity then became seriously ill, and quickly. “My sense of smell and taste disappeared, I became utterly exhausted, had pain in my lungs and coughing fits like I’ve never had in my life,” Molvær, who went into isolation, told Dagsavisen. He felt he simply couldn’t get enough air, and when he woke up at 5:30 one morning and could barely breathe, he was rushed to hospital. He was released back into isolation at home a few days later, only to return to hospital with high infection levels and in need of oxygen. After what he thinks was probably the worst week of his life, in intensive care, he started to recover.

Urge to share the experience
Molvær now feels a major urge to share his experience, warn others and implore people to respect Corona containment measures. He’s alarmed when critics downplay the disease, saying “they don’t know what they’re talking about.” What’s worse, he stresses, is how they can easily infect others, especially the elderly, without realizing it.

Kilde’s bout with Covid-19 didn’t land him in the hospital, but he was put in isolation, felt “extremely exhausted” and “couldn’t do a thing.” He’s painfully aware that his physical condition “has been reduced, and I’ve been so exhausted and slept a lot.”

The young man who’s accustomed to skiing down steep slopes at very high speed simply had to sit and lie still until his symptoms subsided. The virus itself remains in his body and he’ll still test positive, without being a source of infection for others.

‘Maximum unlucky’
“I still feel that I had been careful and had done everything right,” Kilde told NTB. “I followed the rules and the national ski team’s program (known for being very strict), so I must just have touched something someplace, maybe on the plane. I’ve been maximum unlucky.”

So was Molvær, but he also feels he’s gained a new view on life and has “a huge need to tell anyone who’ll listen” about his experience and about all the “heroes and heroines” in the health care system. “I’m so impressed over everything they’re doing and who they are,” Molvær said. “I am eternally grateful after what I’ve been through.”

As Kilde prepares for a new ski race this weekend, Molvær has concerts scheduled in Rome and Tblisi. “I really want to carry out those jobs, and need to for many reasons, but I promise everyone around me not to take any chances.” Norwegian authorities also continue to advise against any travel at present that’s not absolutely necessary.

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund