21 Mar 2020

What it's like having Covid-19 - NZer describes symptoms from hospital bed

From Checkpoint, 5:15 pm on 21 March 2020

Jenene Crossan - New Zealand's 37th Covid-19 coronavirus case - has urged people to be patient and kind, particularly to those who have caught the virus. 

Crossan spoke to Checkpoint from an isolation ward at North Shore Hospital, where she is recovering from the illness.

The entrepreneur thinks she caught Covid-19 at a packed London Gatwick Airport as she made her way home via Doha on Friday 13 March.

"It was a cesspool."

She said she walked around the airport visiting multiple airlines' counters. Staff weren't using hand sanitiser or gloves and were touching passengers' documents and bags.

Despite having no symptoms when she arrived back in Auckland, she had arranged to self-isolate at the family's "hut" in the Coromandel.

Her husband waved to her from across the airport carpark, where she then got in their car he'd packed while he caught an Uber home.

She was at the bach - which she described as a hut without power and running water - when she started feeling incredibly anxious.

"And then the cough just got worse and worse and worse so I came back to Auckland, didn't touch a soul, didn't see a soul."

Her symptoms started with a sore throat and led to a hacking cough and heavy chest, though she said she hadn't had a fever.

She stayed in a campervan on her family's property and called her local GP who arranged for her to be tested.

Twenty-four hours later, on Thursday, she received the call telling her she tested positive, and she went to hospital the following day.

"I'm tired and my chest is really heavy and I've got a pretty substantial cough. I'm less anxious than I was, which is probably a good thing."

She wanted everyone to take the virus seriously, but while she's sick - she still had humour.

"I've got to the point where if I cough too much I can vomit. I call it the Covid-19 for over-40s because I peed myself doing that too, so that's fun."

Medical staff were tending to her in full personal protective equipment and had displayed sincere kindness.

"They are amazing, everyone has been phenomenal.

"The kindness is wonderful. It's pretty scary. It's scary for everyone right now, isn't it. I know I'm going to be fine, but if this is how I am feeling for someone who is pretty fit and healthy, it scares me for other people who aren't as fit and healthy or have compromised lungs or immunity."

She wanted people to know "it's not just a bad flu".

Life will get better, but it will take time, she said.

"Help the government help you. They're putting together great packages - make the most of them. Hunker down, learn to play scrabble."

She had one final message.

"Please stop beating up on the people who have got it. Because they didn't ask for it. They didn't want it."