Coronavirus self-isolation diary: Hobbits and Healthline

4:43 pm on 19 March 2020

On Monday, reporter Max Towle returned home from Canada and is now in self-isolation in Wellington for two weeks. Here's how he is spending the time.

RNZ reporter Max Towle on day two in self-isolation.

RNZ reporter Max Towle on day two in self-isolation. Photo: RNZ / Max Towle

First Person - I tried to get tested for coronavirus.

Since returning to Wellington from Canada, my chest has felt heavy and my nose has resembled a faulty tap. I haven't been coughing, but who really knows what certain symptoms mean?

I called Healthline yesterday, and after a couple of hours pressing redial, was finally told I probably have a "head cold" and shouldn't worry.

  • Max's Covid-19 self-isolation diary: Day One
  • "It's that time of the year and a lot of people have a cold at the moment," a representative said. "I mean I'm not a doctor, and I'm not trying to put down the virus, but I have a bit of a cold at the moment and so does my partner."

    Despite the guesswork, the call made me feel a little better.

    The heavy sensation I'm feeling may just be anxiety. Am I infected? What would people think of me if I was?

    • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs)

    It no longer matters to my flatmates. The day I returned home, one was told he couldn't live with someone self-isolating. Yesterday, the other was told the same. Both have moved out.

    The former is staying with his brother up the coast, who is apparently feeling very sick. The latter works with someone who has been asked to get tested. It feels like things are going to get worse before they get better.

    I've had countless supportive messages from people checking up on me, and others who talk to me like I'm already infected.

    The Healthline representative told me I could go for walks or runs, and even to the supermarket as long as I kept at least two metres away from others and washed my hands. "How can you be allowed to do that?" someone asked.

    This morning I woke up at 6am and couldn't get back to sleep. What a cruel sense of humour the human body has.

    Mentally, I haven't been feeling particularly great the past couple of days. I'm still kicking a tennis ball around my living room and spending far too long scrolling through Netflix. I've fallen down a few YouTube rabbit holes and last night got the urge to binge all three Hobbit movies, before realising 3 minutes into the first that it was a terrible idea.

    I've also been cooking roughly 100 percent more than usual. Does bangers and mash count as cooking?

    I have even motivated myself to do a few sit-ups and felt very smug afterwards.

    More and more people are having to self-isolate right now, and the number of those confined to their homes will surely grow. It's good to send friends and family countless messages, as long as they're supportive. People need to feel like they're not alone.

    Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:

    I've started to wonder about what might happen when my two weeks are over. Will I be able to re-enter the outside world? What will the outside world look like?

    Perhaps I'll emerge from my flat into some kind of apocalyptic wasteland and wander through empty streets past locked up roller doors and rolling tumbleweed.

    Perhaps I won't be able to emerge at all.

    Has it only been four days?

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