Healthy woman details grim reality of contracting coronavirus

Olivia Lambert
News Editor

A 30-year-old woman has detailed the grim reality of contracting coronavirus from her hospital bed as she warns people to take the illness seriously.

Intan Clement, a French and Australian citizen living in Paris, was diagnosed with coronavirus after suffering a cough so horrific she struggled for gasps of breath.

Ms Clement’s symptoms started about two weeks ago – she had a light, dry cough and struggled for air.

She was otherwise healthy and did not smoke, so didn’t think it was anything too serious.

Coronavirus live blog: Latest news and updates from Australia

She thought she had caught the illness from her partner, who was ill a few days prior with a fever and headaches.

“I thought it was a simple cold – he hasn’t had any other symptoms since that. I’ve been turning sicker and sicker,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

Ms Clement, who lived in Australia from 2016 to 2019, also felt a bit of fatigue but “nothing too disturbing”.

That all changed after a weekend in the snow.

Doctors ‘misdiagnose’ coronavirus symptoms

She and a group of friends travelled about 670 kilometres from Paris to the Vallorie ski resort and were on the slopes a day before French President Emmanuel Macron announced a nationwide lockdown on March 16, which came into effect the following day.

Intan Clement fell ill about two weeks ago. Source: Supplied

“It got very difficult at times to breathe while skiing and my body got quite tired but I assumed it’s because I haven’t skied in 10 years and I’m not really fit,” she said.

Ms Clement spent the day resting in the apartment at the ski resort but had to get home the next day. They travelled in a car due to the trains being either extremely full, expensive or cancelled.

“I didn’t feel very well in the car and it took the whole day to come back from Valloire to Paris. Then when we got home I began to cough a bit crazy – mental,” she said.

“I experienced more trouble breathing and couldn’t breathe properly without coughing.”

Intan Clement was treated in hospital as she struggled to breathe. Source: Supplied

On March 18, her lungs began making a strange noise while she inhaled and exhaled.

The next day she rang the French emergency number and medical professionals came to her apartment but decided she should stay at home and do a video conference with a doctor.

“That was useless, ‘Oh, maybe you have the flu, you can have paracetamol’,” Ms Clement recalled the conversation with the doctor.

As she still couldn’t breathe properly, she decided to book a face-to-face appointment with a GP on Friday March 20.

“I manage to walk there but that was painful and made me super tired,” she said.

“I had almost no energy and any movement like positioning my body – sitting more or less – going to the bathroom would exhaust me and it would make me cough and then I would not be able to breath properly.

“Any type of movement would make me exhausted and cough and lack breathing. At the GP I could not stop coughing. My body had difficulties handling the little walk to get there. I avoided taking paracetamol since the day before so we could check my temperature.

“I was sweating so much because my cough was so intense. My abs and most of my body couldn’t stop contracting.”

Ms Clement said she had been simultaneously coughing and crying the three days before she could finally go to hospital.

Intan Clement warns people to take coronavirus seriously. Source: Supplied

Intan confined to hospital room with no visitors

The GP signed a paper for Ms Clement allowing her to receive proper help at the hospital emergency department.

She said the doctor has been calling her since as he was surprised she wasn’t taken seriously earlier and had to get an appointment with him in order to be treated at the hospital.

She stayed in the emergency department the whole day and underwent a number of “uncomfortable” tests.

“Blood tests, lung scans, they put something horrible in my nose very deep,” she said.

“I’ve since been on respiratory oxygen support, intravenous for paracetamol, antibiotics mostly.

“I got an injection of anti-coagulant and antibiotic pills.”

Intan Clement was confined and isolated in hospital after contracting coronavirus. Source: Supplied

She has been in hospital since March 20 and was told she would be confined to her room with no visitors until at least today. She is expecting to be released in the coming days.

“I’m feeling less scared than before as now I’m looked after even if I barely see anyone because of the confinement and isolation,” she said.

“Everyone kept saying before that it was nothing, I was getting better, that it can’t be the COVID-19. I assume because no one wanted to think about that and also wanted to reassure me normally young people don’t die from it or don’t go much to the hospital.”

‘Some people aren’t taking the issue seriously enough’

Ms Clement said she kept complaining about her breathing but never thought she could have contracted the coronavirus and was just freaking herself out.

“I don’t think some people are taking the issue seriously enough,” she said.

“France, as many countries, didn’t realise how big this was going to be. Some French people still don’t realise it and sometimes go out. Now the confinement in France is very serious.”

She claimed a nurse had also told her that levels three and four of the hospital were at capacity while level two was also filling up fast.

“I see some friends in Australia still chilling at the beach. I lived in beautiful Bondi and some have been reported there, including someone I know who is confined to his home,” she said.

Intan Clement lived in Australia from 2016 to 2019. Source: Supplied

“Anyone can carry the virus, some won’t have any symptoms and others might – sometimes strong enough to go to the hospital, sometimes just enough to stay home and rest.

“I just really want people to take it seriously for everyone. As the doctor said, out of 10, four will carry the virus and be asymptomatic. Four will have it with a few symptoms and 1.5 will be like me and require to go to hospital. And 0.5 will end up in intensive care.

“People are to be aware and behave.”

So far in France there have been more than 20,000 cases and over 1000 deaths.

Intan’s coronavirus symptoms

  • Fatigue

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Trouble breathing

  • No taste

  • No smell

  • Headaches

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