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"I had no idea it would hit me this hard". The reality of getting COVID-19 in Sydney right now.

Nine weeks into the Greater Sydney lockdown, it's easy to get up caught up in the daily numbers. 

The numbers of daily cases, the number of daily tests and - tragically - the number of deaths. 

But behind the numbers, we don't often hear the stories of what it's actually like to be diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Watch: Dr Lucy Morgan on what it's like to have COVID-19. Post continues below.


Video via Nine News

On Wednesday morning, respiratory specialist Lucy Morgan shed some light when she fronted cameras at the NSW press conference to share what her patients are going through. 

"The symptoms of COVID-19 that are affecting many of the patients that I've been caring for in the last few weeks include a really severe headache, not just a little bit of a headache but a really severe migraine-like headache that makes you sensitive to light, a stiff neck and it takes more than just Panadol to relieve it. It's really awful," she said, urging people to get vaccinated.

"Many of my patients have a terrible cough, the sort of cough that leaves you breathless and they can't move or speak or walk without the cough becoming really, really terrible. Lots of patients have diarrhoea. Lots of patients have nausea. They just can't eat or drink anything. And people feel so overwhelmingly fatigued, all they can do is lie on the bed."

"Some of these patients become increasingly breathless. Initially, just breathless, walking quickly or making the bed, but as time goes by, they become breathless walking or even talking. If anybody is at home with symptoms this severe, they need to call an ambulance."

Here's what it's like to have COVID-19 in Sydney right now, from people who have suffered from it first hand. 

"I don't know how I caught this virus." 

50-year-old construction worker Fawaz doesn't know how he caught the virus, which has infected his entire family including six children. 

In a video released by NSW Health, Fawaz, who lives in Putney in Sydney's north, is seen lying in a hospital bed struggling to breathe. 

"I'm not doing too well at the moment.... my fever, my headache, my breathing," he said. 

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"I was very careful of where I went and what I did and I don't know how I caught this virus."

He went on to share that his daughter is also being admitted to hospital. 

"She's not feeling too good either. She's getting dizzy, her heart rate's too high, she's finding it hard to breathe," he explained, getting visibly upset. 

Fawaz said he wishes he received his vaccination earlier, which he booked in to receive in late October. 

"So please get vaccinated. I wish I did it beforehand."

"It's not a game - it's for real."

Image: NSW Health.

"All I can think of is my children who I haven't seen for a very long time."

Single mum-of-two, Ramona, was days away from receiving her second dose of the vaccine before she contracted the virus. 

"I think it's very important to realise how real this is, and it shouldn't have to take us to feel or suffer the virus to realise how real it is," she said in the video released by NSW Health. 

In the video, Ramona who works at a pharmacy in Greenacre in south-western Sydney, shared the mental and physical toll the virus was taking on her. 

"I've had two kids, I've had a major operation - I've never had to push myself to try and recover mentally this much. It's crazy.

"All I can think of is my children who I haven't seen for a very long time," she said tearing up. 

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"I haven't been working, I'm a single mum, it's not easy."

Image: NSW Health.

"I was close to death."

35-year-old Osama has been in hospital for a week and a half after contracting the virus. 

His wife, who also tested positive for COVID-19, is currently in intensive care while his children are at Westmead Hospital. 

"It's terrible. I've got my kids somewhere in Westmead, got my wife in another hospital and I'm in another hospital. It's separated us," he said in the video released by NSW Health. 

Speaking from his hospital bed, the tradesman from Lakemba said he had a close brush with death and experienced 'harsh' symptoms such as shortness of breath.  

"I was close to death. I was pretty sick," he said.

"It was harsh - it was fever, it was headaches ... a combination of things you don't want to experience."

He also urged fellow tradies to get vaccinated. 

"Do it. Don't risk it. Be safe ... it's just not worth it, you don't want to go through it."

Image: NSW Health.

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"I tried to be as responsible as possible... but I had no idea it would hit me this hard."

Last week, 21-year-old Jett Stanton tested positive for COVID-19. The next night, he was being treated in hospital. 

The semi-professional skateboarder from Liverpool, NSW, had tested positive to the virus alongside his two housemates. 

On Thursday night, he entered hospital after experiencing a painful cough, stabbing chest pain, fatigue, headaches, nausea and cold sweats.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, he explained he had no underlying physical conditions, eats healthy, exercises and doesn't drink alcohol or smoke.

"I can’t stress enough, regardless of how healthy and young you are, you cannot predict how [COVID-19] will affect you," he told the publication. 

"I tried to be as responsible as possible... but I had no idea it would hit me this hard."

Jett's girlfriend, who is vaccinated, also had a COVID-19 test but returned a negative result.

Sharing a post on Instagram over the weekend, Jett wanted to make a few things clear, "Covid is NOT a joke and not to be played with."

"It’s not the government trying to control you and I can 100 per cent assure you this is not just a flu like some of you say it is," he wrote, alongside a photo of himself in his hospital bed. 

The 21-year-old went on to share the physical and mental toll the virus was taking, including panic attacks that caused him to pass out.

"I am having uncomfortable cold sweats, throat and chest is blocked, intense headache, unable to sleep, my anxiety disorder has had me have panics attacks to the point I passed out twice within three hours (I feel like I’m going to die every time I have an attack), my body cramps and the list of symptoms go on and I don’t even know if this is the worst of it yet."

"I am generally a very healthy young person and I still feel like my life is on the line. Please follow the lockdown rules as they are there for a reason and take care of one another."

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"I put my whole family and kids in jeopardy."

Over in Granville, Tarek el Sage sadly experienced the consequences of breaching lockdown rules firsthand after his family contracted COVID-19. 

Himself, his wife, mother, four children and three other relatives all contracted the virus after a COVID carrier was invited into his home. 

"We might have had one visitor coming over, and she was showing a bit of symptoms," the 41-year-old told 7NEWS this week.

His mother and brother had to be hospitalised, while one of his daughters hasn’t been able to eat for four days and his son is experiencing nosebleeds.

"I regret it," he told the publication. 

"Not only putting myself in jeopardy but I put my whole family and kids in jeopardy."

He advises others to stay home and get vaccinated. 

 Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below.

"I actually was really scared there for about 30 hours, just because I've never ever experienced anything like that in my life. I was literally delirious."

Riverwood couple Melissa Green and Dion Mason, along with their three-year-old daughter tested positive to COVID-19 last month.

Speaking to the ABC, Melissa said her and her partner first experienced headaches, chills and muscle aches. However, six days later, their health started to significantly deteriotate. 

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"Small tasks like picking my daughter's toys up off the ground or walking from the kitchen to the bathroom, the fatigue was enough to have to sit down and rest, it was just so difficult," she told the publication. 

Dion, an asthma sufferer, ended up spending several hours in emergency after his oxygen levels and heart rate were not where they should be. 

"When I first got sick, I wasn't particularly worried... I just thought it was a really bad flu," he told the publication. 

"But when those symptoms subsided, and it moved to being not able to breathe, that's when I was like, OK, this is actually really scary now because people are dying. This is probably the first time in my life that I've actually been scared because I didn't know what was going to happen."

Melissa also spent eight nights in St George Hospital after she woke up one morning struggling to breathe. Fortunately, their daughter only suffered a few symptoms.

"I had temperatures over 40 degrees. I had the oxygen on me," she explained. 

"I actually was really scared there for about 30 hours, just because I've never ever experienced anything like that in my life. I was literally delirious."

This article was originally published on August 25, 2021, and was updated on August 26, 2021.

Feature Image: NSW Health. 

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