For one Spanish ER nurse treating coronavirus patients, the biggest fear is infecting her children

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  • Spain is one of the worst hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • For healthcare workers on the front lines, treating dozens of patients a day comes with fear that they’re putting themselves and their families at risk.
  • Business Insider Today followed an ER nurse at a Barcelona hospital who has been treating coronavirus patients for the past two months.
  • View more episodes of Business Insider Today on Facebook.

Getting tested for coronavirus looks like someone is poking your brain with a swab. Most have described it as highly uncomfortable, and in some rare cases, patients have even fainted.

But it’s the only thing that gives Sonia Peña a sense of comfort.

Peña is an emergency room nurse at Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic, and has treated dozens of coronavirus patients since the pandemic began. At the peak of the crisis, Peña said she was personally treating 15 patients a day, and about 30 more would be sitting outside in the waiting room.

Peña gets tested for the virus every week. But that’s not enough to settle her nerves.

“I’m not sure if I’m taking the virus home with me. I’m not at peace,” Peña told Business Insider Today as the show followed her around the hospital for a day. “You ask yourself, ‘Can I kiss him? Can I touch him?'”

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Sonia Peña, an ER nurse from Barcelona, said she fears bringing the coronavirus home to her family. Eva Parey for Business Insider Today

Seeing her kids after work, including her 16-year-old son who has asthma, is what she describes as the scariest part.

“I would tell him, ‘No, sweetheart, I don’t have the virus. I tested negative,'” she said. “We had a party every week when I said negative.”

Spain is one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic. More than 220,000 cases have been reported. The region of Catalonia, where Barcelona is located, has seen more than 55,000 confirmed cases alone, according to the Spanish Health Ministry.

It is also the region with the highest number of new coronavirus cases. The Health Ministry said on Wednesday that 195 new cases had been reported in the past 24 hours.

The Spanish government recently introduced a four-step plan to reopen the country after a more than eight-week lockdown. But Barcelona, which is also Spain’s second largest city, is one of the last cities to phase out of the quarantine.

As restrictions are eased, Peña wonders what the new normal will look like.

“There are so many things we don’t know about COVID-19,” she said. “I don’t know how we go back to normal.”

See what nurses in Spain are going through on Business Insider Today »