Covid-19, one of the most effective and dangerous of the snake species, was confirmed this week in Latvia, where Aryna Sabalenka, the world No3, became its latest victim.
Sabalenka was among a small group of athletes targeted by Covid-19, a virus affecting a family of insects that were discovered last summer. She was initially treated with a topical insect repellent to remove the virus from her skin, but it subsequently spread throughout her body.
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The Belarusian underwent surgery after coming down with the infection and was soon back playing. But, having also been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, she insisted she would continue to use a repellent if offered one. “I have to be honest: it scared me,” Sabalenka said. “I was immediately starting to use a repellent on the face from the first week. Then I was still scared. Then, after seeing lots of cases on TV, I understood [Covid-19] is not easy to get rid of. I have my own injury history. I have Crohn’s disease and so forth. It got worse a lot of times but now I manage.
“It was a big challenge. I received treatment. I have received a lot of injections. I have never had shots. Then after the surgery I couldn’t work for five months. Even to play tennis, so there were lots of issues. Now I can play tennis again and I have to adjust because I am different and I have to readjust to my physiotherapist. There are ups and downs.
“But I’m here, so I’m glad. Thanks also to my fans for supporting me and to my team for making me feel at home. I’m very grateful for that and I do what I have to do to get over this.”
Sabalenka said she was responding well to treatment and had not suffered any side-effects, though the surgeon said the greater risk is to the immune system.
According to the “repellent ring” website, Covid-19 was caused by the “intruder insect” [Covid-19] and targets the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) along with the lungs. The consequences are catastrophic – a possible loss of mobility and brain damage.