A young Victorian man has detailed his "incredibly frightening" and long battle with Covid 18 months after catching the deadly virus.
Will, 24, fronted the media at Tuesday's presser after the state recorded 1763 new local Covid cases — the highest daily record seen by any Australian territory or state during the entire pandemic.
He said he caught Covid in March last year three days after returning home from America, where he had been studying in Boston.
"I've been battling long Covid ever since," he said.
"The initial illness was incredibly frightening. The feeling of straining against your own body, trying to expand your lungs against this invisible force, struggling to breathe.
"But it was, in medical terms, a 'mild' case. I wasn't hospitalised. I was never in the ICU. And I was officially cleared after a couple of weeks."
Despite his recovery, Will said what a lot of people don't realise was that even a mild case of Covid can turn into long COVID, "which can severely impact your life far longer than you would imagine".
"The conversations around Covid often focus on two drastically different ends of the spectrum. Hospitalisations and death on the one hand. Mild symptoms and quick recovery on the other," he said.
"But I'm here to tell you that the distance between these two extremes is massive. And that's where long Covid lives. And having inhabited that space for the last 18 months, take my word for it, it's not a place you want to be."
Will described long Covid as "real" and "random", adding it is "characterised by periods of remission interspersed with intense symptom flare-ups".
For months after his diagnosis, Will said he was unable to walk around the block without feeling lightheaded and struggling to breathe.
"I was 23, and had just come off the back of four years of Division I college athletics, training two times a day, six days a week," he said.
"Now I had such debilitating fatigue that I sometimes couldn't even get out of bed. These days, a relapse can be brought on by something as simple as walking the dog or going for a kick of the footy.
"The physical impacts are lessening over time. I can now go through long stretches where I'm mostly okay. But I'm still nowhere near normal."
Besides the physical issues, Will said the invisible impacts from Covid can wear a person down.
"The shame of constantly having to tell people that you're still not better yet. The frustration you feel with your own body that you just can't seem to get over this post-viral syndrome. And the constant fear and anxiety that, at any moment, the symptoms can come back," he said, urging people not to risk it and get vaccinated.
Delta variant survivor recalls horrifying experience
A mum named Kim, 49, also spoke to the media as a Covid survivor, recalling how she almost died from the Delta variant.
She said she and her husband contracted it from their house cleaner despite all three wearing masks.
"A few days later, I started to go downhill rapidly. By day 11, I continued to be bedridden, unable to sleep, with body aches and pains that not even strong pain relief could mask. I couldn't finish a sentence without difficult breathing," Kim said.
"I didn't know if this was as bad as it was going to get, but didn't know how it could get any worse. It was during my daily Covid call with DHHS that I was unable to talk properly. They, thankfully, realised how unwell I was and advised to call an ambulance straightaway."
Kim said she was rushed into the emergency room and was placed on oxygen.
"My lungs had collapsed and I required constant flow of oxygen. I was regularly on a machine with an invasive full head mask with fast-flowing air," she said.
"Covid also stripped me of my dignity, unable to go to the bathroom or wash myself. I had to rely on the amazing kindness of the ICU nurses who cared for me at their own risk."
The 49-year-old said she hoped every day her health would improve so she could go home and see her twin boys.
"When I got home, I was still unwell and had to isolate which was hard, but I was home, recovery was slow," she said.
A couple of months after returning home, Kim said most of her hair fell out due to the stress of getting through Covid.
"Now, prior to Covid-19, I had no underlying health conditions and was a reasonably healthy woman. Fourteen months later and I feel that I have aged 10 years," she said.
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