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Case of the chills in Mexico turned out to be virus for Winnipeg man

A Winnipeg man who had the chills while on holiday in Mexico earlier this month, thought the air conditioning at his resort was to blame. He later tested positive for COVID-19 and became Manitoba’s 26th case.

On Friday, more than two weeks after getting sick, and on his 17th day of quarantine, Ryan Caligiuri, 34, said he feels better, but he must continue to self-isolate until he receives the results of his latest test.

"I'm waiting for a negative test," Caligiuri said on Friday. "Until then, I still have to follow the social distance protocol... this was definitely worse than the flu."

Ryan Caligiuri, who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from vacation in Mexico, has been self-isolating since March 11, 2020 and in daily phone contact with nurses tracking his symptoms. (Jesse Boily / Winnipeg Free Press)

Ryan Caligiuri, who tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from vacation in Mexico, has been self-isolating since March 11, 2020 and in daily phone contact with nurses tracking his symptoms. (Jesse Boily / Winnipeg Free Press)

Caligiuri said he contracted the virus while vacationing in Cabo San Lucas with three friends. His friends also isolated themselves upon their return, but never got sick.

"I started to get chills while I was sitting on the beach," he said. "I just thought it was because of the air conditioner being on all night in the room and blowing on me. But as I started coming home, I started feeling worse.

"I had it for sure - chills, a fever of 102 F (38.9 C), and fatigue. I called Health LInks."

Caligiuri said he was told to get tested and afterward, he waited at home for the results.

"It was harder than I expected it to be," he said. "The fatigue was the next level. I would sleep 20 hours a day.

"I would have to motivate myself to get up to get some soup or a drink... it just zaps the energy from you. For about a week, it really took me down, but after (that), I slowly got better."

Caligiuri said by the time he got notice that he had tested positive for COVID-19, he felt better.

"They said they wanted to let me know, and then they asked, 'Are you sitting down?' They said you came back positive and I said 'Oh, yeah, I thought I did. I kind of knew I had it based on the symptoms.' But she said she was surprised because other people didn't react that way."

Caligiuri said thanks to family, friends and the community — as well as Skip the Dishes — it was easy for him to self-isolate. "People would put food by the gate and I would go out to get it."

Caligiuri is not the only Winnipegger who has spoken to the Free Press after testing positive for COVID-19.

Caligiuri said he has three pieces of advice to people based on his experience.

"People need to not allow the panic of the virus to get the best of them," he said.

"Is it scary? Yes. But it's not the virus I'm worried about, it is the panic."

Caligiuri advised people to get information from organizations such as the World Health Organization, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Caligiuri directed his final piece of advice at millennials.

"People my age are not taking this seriously," he said.

"They're not adhering to social distancing. I feel that is quite foolish and doing your community a disservice. if I'd gone out, look who I would have put at risk. It's not about you, it's about other people in our community.

"We need to think about others."

A man in his 70s, who was the province's fifth positive case, said more than a week ago that he considered himself "extremely lucky."

The man, who didn't want to be identified, said: "After one day of flu-like symptoms, I have had minimal discomfort. "Other than the occasional sporadic cough, which is normal for me after a cold, I have been symptom-free for a few days... yes, I have had colds (and) flu worse than what I’ve experienced with COVID-19, but that’s not true for everyone," he said last week.


On Friday, the man declined to comment about his recovery.

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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