LA nurse tests positive for COVID-19 after flying to Armenia to help with humanitarian crisis

A group of nurses from Los Angeles traveled to Armenia to help take care of injured soldiers. However, as one nurse was set to return back to Southland, she tested positive for COVID-19 and is now suffering from coronavirus complications. 

Armenia is dealing with the virus pandemic as well as an ongoing war. Southern Californians have been doing their part to be of assistance and some have even flown back to help.

FOX 11 WAS at LAX as registered nurse Annie Cholakian was getting ready to fly to Armenia.

RELATED: SoCal doctors, nurses fly to Artsakh to assist with humanitarian aid

Cholakian was one of the nurses the Armenian American Nurses Association brought together to go help with the growing humanitarian crisis.

Since her departure, she has spent weeks taking care of the injured soldiers.

"They're like 18, 19, 20-years-old, and now they're double amputee and they talk about how they were supposed to get married by the end of November. And it's very, very, hurtful for me to see this because their lives have changed forever," she said. 

These are young men who witnessed their friends make the ultimate sacrifice for home and country.  Now, they are hospitalized with missing limbs, traumatic experiences and broken dreams.

RELATED: Continuing coverage of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Their memories and wounds from the front lines are also affecting their caregivers.

"It is extremely hard for us to see, see all of this and to be normal. We hide all our feelings, um, just so we don't cause them to be more depressed or angry, but it's not easy," Cholakian explained.

When Cholakian was about to get a break and return home to Los Angeles, she tested positive for COVID.

"I started developing a sore throat and severe weakness. And I just felt like I needed to sleep all day. I developed severe fever, night sweats, vomiting, nausea, extreme weakness. I've been having severe abdominal pain- excruciating pain," she said. 

At last check, Cholakian had developed pneumonia and a kidney infection.

"All the soldiers are being detected with COVID at Karabakh/Artsakh.  They're coming with COVID and all the civilians- the women and children of Artsakh are in building over here. So I don't know if I got it from these civilians in my hotel, or if I detected it from the soldiers as I was working hand -in- hand with the soldiers at the hospital very closely, doing wound care. A lot of people are afraid to say it, but, um, the truth is a lot of people here have it and they've detected it because, um, we're in war and we're active," she said.

She is of course concerned for her health, but she also feels frustrated that she’s trapped and can’t continue to help out at the hospital.

"I'm just stuck here, hopeless, helpless. I would love to be in the hospital helping instead of being in the room, but I have no other choice," she said. 

More help is on the way.

The Armenian American Nurses Association sent ten more members to Armenia over the weekend

They’ll be able to relieve and help Cholakian and the others already on the ground.

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