Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is self-isolating at home after she says that she and her father Svante Thunberg may have contracted the novel coronavirus. Thunberg, 17, made the announcement in an interview with New Scientist, explaining that both she and her father began to experience symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 following a train tour of Europe.
"I came home from central Europe and then I isolated myself from the beginning, because I thought I might as well as I've been on trains and so I don't want to put anyone else at risk," she said. "But I started feeling some symptoms after a few days. At the same time my father was feeling much more intense symptoms."
"The important thing is I didn't basically feel that I was ill. It could be that I was feeling unusually tired, I was coughing a bit," she explained. "That also is very dangerous because you don't know you have it. If I wouldn't have been for my father getting it at the same time and much more intense than me, I might not even have noticed it, that I was sick."
Thunberg, who has traveled the globe in her fight for climate change, went on to encourage others to adhere to the guidelines being laid out by medical professionals, including social distancing.
"That is something I want to communicate, that many people don't feel symptoms at all, or very mild symptoms, but it can still be contagious," she said. "So you have to really practice social distancing whether you feel ill or not."
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In an Instagram post, Thunberg assured her followers that she has "basically recovered," though it remains unknown if she had actually been suffering from the coronavirus, as testing in Sweden is limited to those "in need of emergent medical treatment."
In the post, she again encouraged people to follow the guidelines of medical professionals, particularly young people, as they "might not notice any symptoms at all, or very mild symptoms. Then they don't know they have the virus and can pass it on to people in risk groups."
Speaking with New Scientist, Thunberg said that the coronavirus pandemic and climate change should not be compared as "one does not outrule the other" and the pandemic "really shows that our current societies are unsustainable."
"If one virus can wipe out the entire economy in a matter of weeks and shut down societies then that is a proof that our societies are not very resilient," she said. "It also shows that once we are in an emergency, we can act and we can change our behaviour quickly. And as long as we have solidarity and common sense we will get through any crisis."