A young photographer and his mother suffering from COVID-19 portray the two faces of the pandemic in families
In hospitals, patients' loneliness is extreme. At home, their confined family members await a distressing call.
In mid-March, just the week that a state of emergency was declared over the coronavirus pandemic in Spain, Bóreas Talens' father got into his car in the middle of the night and drove 800 kilometres from Valencia, in eastern Spain, to neighboring Catalonia to pick up his son and take him home.
"(The President of the Catalan government) Torra had announced that he was going to close the borders and we were afraid of being isolated and unable to look after each other," said the 22-year old photographer.
As if it were a premonition, his mother soon began to feel sick.
"She was coughing, incontinent and having trouble breathing. She had been through the the flu a few years ago and was in a coma for a week, so we started to worry," he said. However, she was reluctant to go to the hospital. The confinement had barely begun and his mother argued that the anxiety was a result produced by the media's barrage of unpleasant news.
After a few days, his mother was admitted for severe kidney disease, just as hospitals and intensive care units began to fill up with COVID-19 patients.
"She was tested for the coronavirus three times and was negative, but when she had been hospitalized for a week, she was positive. My father, who had accompanied me to see her in the hospital, my brother and I could have been infected too," said Bóreas.
Luckily, none of them showed symptoms.
In the first days, Bóreas had no problem going to visit his mother, who was the only patient who had tested negative in a hospital where everyone else was sick with coronavirus.
"I always carry my camera with me, took some pictures of her and suggested that, in order to distract her, she should do the same with her mobile phone," explained the Valencian, who remembered that despite the police controls established during that first week of confinement, people were constantly coming and going to the hospital and were quite free.
"I went up in the elevator with a woman who was going to visit her husband, who had been admitted to the ICU with coronavirus. I was wearing a mask and some oven gloves because I didn't know if he had the virus, but the woman was totally unprotected. She told me she already knew he had it and didn't care. After a week, the security measures changed and they didn't let us in anymore," he said.
Now his mother has been in isolation for more than a month, undergoing dialysis and being treated for the coronavirus, although he hopes she's discharged soon.
"She has given another three negatives and they assume that she is no longer in danger, but she is carrying the isolation as well as she can, with the impact of the doctors treating her with protective suits and having to face both treatments alone," said Bóreas. "I'm asking psychologists to go and see her, to do some accompaniment, because it's hard."
Meanwhile, mother and son continue to portray at a distance two sides of the coronavirus coin: the anguish of those sick with COVID-19 who are isolated from their families and that of the relatives confined to their homes, waiting to receive news.