WINNIPEG -- A Winnipeg man who was among the first in his age group to contract the B.1.1.7. variant in Manitoba is speaking out about the severity of the COVID-19 variants, after it landed him and his family in hospital.

Peter Soliman, a 22-year-old man from Winnipeg, said he was healthy, eating well and physically active before COVID-19 struck his family.

In March, his dad got a call that he had been identified as a close contact to a case. Soliman says the entire family was tested for COVID-19 – and though his dad tested positive, the rest of them were negative.

But, one by one, Soliman said the rest of his family started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and, one by one, they started testing positive for the virus.


The symptoms hit within the first week, Soliman said – leaving him with a high fever and severe muscle aches.

"My body felt like it ran a marathon every day – it was just kind of drained," he said.

His mother was the first of them to be admitted to hospital. He and his father were later admitted to hospital but released. Within a few days, Soliman said his oxygen dropped to 70 per cent and he came down with pneumonia.

He was taken to the emergency room at St. Boniface and was readmitted to hospital. In an Instagram post recounting the experience, Soliman said a doctor told him his condition was worse than that of an 84-year-old COVID-19 patient who was staying in the room next to him.

"It was horrible in the beginning. You don't feel like you are a human being to be honest," Soliman said, adding he was bed-bound for the first six days.

"Any kind of form of movement was just horrible. It was a lot to ask for, for my body."

Soliman said the only member of his family who did not test positive for COVID-19 was his sister. He said she works as a nurse, and received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. She has tested negative for the virus multiple times now, he said.


Soliman said public health knew from the beginning his family was dealing with a variant of concern. But it was days after the test that he discovered he was among the first in his age group to test positive for the B.1.1.7. variant.

On Monday, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said the B.1.1.7. variant is becoming much more prevalent in the province.

"I think the third wave is here," Roussin said. "The third wave looks quite severe in other jurisdictions, so we need to be ready for it."

He said in other areas of the country where COVID-19 variants have taken hold, there have been younger people admitted into intensive care.

In Manitoba, 412 people have tested positive for a COVID-19 variant, the majority of which has been identified as the B.1.1.7. variant.

Roussin said Manitobans need to act now to cut down on variant case transmission.


It is a warning echoed by Soliman.

"The real message that people need to hear is that these variants are serious. I can speak about the U.K. variant. It is very serious and it hit me really, really, really hard and I wish that upon nobody," he said.

He said his family is now on the road to recovery – and though they are all tired, they are thankful to be home.

"We are hoping that there is no long-term effects that stay in our lungs because of it," he said. "We've all physically lost a lot of weight so we are just trying to kind of get back to physically being active, but it is kind of slow baby steps."

In the Instagram post he wrote, which has now garnered more than 14,600 likes, he said he has seen people starting to go back to normal and acting like the pandemic isn’t real.

Soliman said he has been sharing his story in the hope of raising awareness about the seriousness of the COVID-19 variants.

"I think people really need to change their perspective and really start to care about one another and just stick to the rules for now," he said.

"I don’t think now is the time to loosen up because this third wave is full of variants and it's very dangerous. I feel like this is the time where we need to kind of stick together and really care about one another."