An Auckland woman who tested positive for Covid-19 almost a month ago says she still hasn’t made a full recovery. She wants anyone who thinks the virus is just a flu to understand it is so much more, especially the otherwise young or healthy.
Alice Banfield, 32, started experiencing symptoms about five days after travelling to New Zealand from overseas, the day she was tested. She was confirmed to have the virus the very next day and health authorities believe she picked it up while on her way home from Israel either in a plane or in transit.
She is young, fit, and healthy and has no underlying health or respiratory issues, but that didn’t prevent the virus from taking over. It’s now been 27 days since her diagnosis on March 22, and she still hasn’t made a full recovery.
During the first couple of days of symptoms, Ms Banfield says she only had a cough, and it wasn’t very persistent. But then day three hit.
“That was the worst day ever. I have never felt so weak in my life,” she says.
“I had sweats, chills, and was coughing really bad at that point. I was just exhausted and even getting out of bed to get a glass of water was hard.”
Strangely, the next day she felt better.
“The next day - day four - I felt great. And I thought it was all over, but one of the Healthline nurses said that happens, people feel better then they get worse.
Ms Banfield says she never had the fever that has been classified as one of the main symptoms, but on day five the respiratory problems began.
“I started to get the breathing symptoms and I basically just had to work harder to breathe,” she says.
“That was probably the most scary part of it for me because I don't have any underlying respiratory issues. I'm normally someone who loves fitness and running and stuff like that. That was what made it so scary. It was definitely not like the flu in terms of its mildness.”
Ms Banfield was never hospitalised or put on a ventilator and has endured the length of her Covid-19 battle at home. But, when her breathing got as bad as it did she was monitored at one of the Covid-19 centres for coronavirus patients.
“They checked me out and they said your breathing is actually in the normal range, you are very mild compared to someone who went to ICU,” she says.
Ms Banfield says with her breathing being classed as mild she can’t imagine what it would be like for someone who already has respiratory issues.
“When it started affecting my lungs I was like oh my goodness if this is me with my healthy, young and smoke-free lungs, what would it be like for someone who is not like that? It’s full-on,” she says.
A Healthline nurse has checked in on her every day since her diagnosis, and she says she is starting to feel a bit better but hasn’t rid herself of the virus yet.
“On Sunday which was day 22 I felt better, but the next day I was tired again and a couple of days ago the chills came back and feelings of exhaustion but apparently it is a normal thing. I’m still quite tired and I’ve still got muscle aches."
At first, Ms Banfield says she, like many New Zealanders, believed the virus would be nothing more than the flu. But it was, and she wants everyone to understand its severity. She also wants to thank those who are doing their bit by staying home to prevent the spread.
"Don’t underestimate it. Even myself - I thought I'm young and healthy it will only be the flu for me but then I found out firsthand that it's not.
"Other than that I would like to say to New Zealand thank you because I guess it really hit me what a sacrifice people are making especially parents as well as workers. I feel overwhelmingly grateful for what everyone is doing so that other people don't have to experience what I went through or far worse."