"I was so weak I couldn't even walk." 12 people on what it feels like to have COVID-19.

At the time of reporting, there have been over 660,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, now officially known as COVID-19, worldwide.

In Australia alone, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen to over 3,600, while 16 people have died from the virus.

As cases of the virus continue to rise worldwide, people have come forward to share their experiences.

From no symptoms at all to brutal aches and pains, the symptoms and experiences of patients with COVID-19 seem to vary on a case-by-case basis.


In over 80 per cent of cases of COVID-19, the symptoms are mild and very similar to a common cold or flu.

“The most common symptoms that people will get are fever and a cough,” Dr Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases physician and Associate Professor at the Australian National University Medical School, told Mamamia.

“There may be other symptoms to a lesser extent, like fatigue, sore throat, shortness of breath, muscle aches and pains, and uncommonly diarrhoea and a runny nose.”


Others, typically those with underlying chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, can become more severely ill and experience pneumonia.

An even smaller proportion – roughly six per cent – have no symptoms at all at the time of diagnosis. However, most of those cases do eventually develop symptoms within the following two days.

What does it feel like to have COVID-19?

“I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.”

Amy Shircel, a 22-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin, shared her experience of COVID-19 on Twitter.

Amy tested positive to the virus after travelling through Europe.

“Take it from me – you do NOT want to catch this,” the 22-year-old posted on Twitter.

For the first few days, Amy’s symptoms were “manageable”. She had a fever, a mild cough, chills, headache and a runny nose. But by the third day of symptoms, Amy was “vomiting constantly”.


“I couldn’t keep anything down. I couldn’t sleep. I obviously couldn’t eat,” she wrote.

On the fourth day of being unwell, Amy tested positive for the virus.


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“I developed shortness of breath. It’s scary, it feels like your lungs are shallow and you can’t take a proper breath. I was weak and I had a 102 degree fever and rising,” she said.


“On the fifth day, things got worse and worse. I had never been this ill in my entire life. I was genuinely afraid I would die, because that is what it felt like.

“By the sixth day of symptoms, I was so weak I couldn’t even walk. I crawled to the bathroom to vomit. I called 911, and they took me in an ambulance to the emergency room.

“From the seventh to the 11th day of symptoms, ER again. I had never been that weak or fatigued by fever in my life. I either violently shivered in bed all day, or I would wake up in a literal puddle of my own sweat. I couldn’t eat for nine days. I was completely miserable.”

Now on her 12th day of symptoms, Amy has regained her appetite, but the end of the virus for the 22-year-old is “nowhere in sight”.

“I still have all the major symptoms,” she shared on Twitter.

“A coronavirus diagnosis is dehumanising and lonely, and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. You aren’t invincible just because you’re in your 20s.”

“I felt like I was dying.”

Tarek Soliman, a New Yorker who has designed clothes for reality show Ru Paul’s Drag Race, shared his experience of COVID-19 on Instagram to warn young people about the severity of the virus.

At first, Tarek dealt with what he thought was “a normal cold/flu”. Within a few days, however, his symptoms worsened.

“I had a high temperature, severe chills, sweating, body aches, terrible headache. I stayed home for five days and continued to monitor my symptoms, thinking that it was maybe a bad flu,” he said.


After five days at home, the interior and costume designer received some medical care. When he fainted during his medical assessment, Tarek was transported via ambulance to a nearby hospital.


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Here’s my story with coronavirus, especially for young people who think this virus isn’t dangerous. .???????????? . I started feeling chills and my body felt weak on March 8th, I thought it is a normal cold/flu that will heal soon. It started hitting me when I was on the bus from DC to NYC. High temperature, severe chills, sweating, body aches, terrible headache, I stayed home for 5 days and continued to monitor my symptoms thinking that it maybe just a bad flu. After the fifth day I went to urgent care because my symptoms has been getting worse, by the time the doctor started running some tests I fainted and they called the ambulance ????, after they transferred me to mount Sinai. From the moment I got there I was kept in an isolated room by myself, they definitely didn’t know what to do. They ran some tests on me every 4 hours, with no information or telling me what I have or what’s wrong with me, I was shaking and felt like I was dying with only IVs in my arm. After they took some blood and swapped my nose for covid-19 test I waited again until 4 am in the morning, I got discharged and sent home after 12 hours in the ER and instructed to only take Tylenol. . the hospitals and USA is completely unprepared for this, I don’t recommend relying on hospitals or the healthcare system. After 4 days I got my test result back that I am positive. I still have the same symptoms with no progress, but I started developing pneumonia and can’t breathe normally because there is NO cure, it was followed by coughing blood, now I have no fever but I still can’t breathe normally, apparently the virus has spread into my lungs. . I am still not cured or healed from covid-19 and I will be going to the emergency room again for my developed pneumonia.. ( doctors and everyone in the ER have no idea how to deal with this virus, they are only depending on your body to fight it) . PLEASE SHARE so more people know that this isn’t something small we are dealing with, be responsible and stay home. I don’t want anyone to go through what I am going through now. Stay safe ❤️

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“From the moment I got there I was kept in an isolated room by myself, they definitely didn’t know what to do,” he said.


“They ran some tests on me every four hours. I was shaking and felt like I was dying with only IVs in my arm. After they took some blood and swabbed my nose for the COVID-19 test, I got discharged and sent home after 12 hours in the ER.

“After four days, I got my test result back that I am positive. I still have the same symptoms with no progress, but I started developing pneumonia and I can’t breathe normally right now. It was followed by coughing blood.

“This isn’t something small we are dealing with, be responsible and stay home. I don’t want anyone to go through what I am going through right now.”

“I felt like I was 80 years old.”

Australian Bridget Wilkins, 29, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March after flying from London to Brisbane, via Singapore, for her best friend’s wedding – but she never made it to the ceremony.

Speaking to ABC‘s 7.30, Wilkins said she initially found the symptoms to be no worse than a headache or sore throat and she believed she could just be jetlagged.

She went to the doctor for a general health checkup and discovered she had the coronavirus. It’s not known where Wilkins picked up the virus, but she said doctors think it could’ve been at Heathrow or Singapore Changi Airport.

Wilkins has spent 13 days in isolation at a Brisbane hospital.

“I’ll be honest, the first question I asked the doctor on the phone was, am I going to die? Which sounds a bit dramatic but at that stage, two weeks ago, I didn’t really know what coronavirus was,” she told 7.30.


She said she felt only mildly sick, but around days eight to 10 her condition deteriorated.

“I became very, very fatigued and I had quite intense headaches and a level of chest pain,” Wilkins said.

“I felt like I was 80 years old. I thought of my grandmother at that moment.

“I recognised how hard it may be for her generally but also if she was to have a condition like coronavirus.”

During those worst days, Wilkins struggled to sit up, get out of bed and “do all the basic things that we probably all take for granted”.

After recovering, Wilkins was unable to leave isolation until she returned two negative swabs in a row, which she did after 13 days.

“Now I have no coronavirus in my system,” Wilkins told 7.30. “I’m not infectious and I’m not contagious according to medical advice, which is nice.”

Watch: Mamamia’s Claire Murphy breaks down your most asked questions about COVID-19. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

“My eyes physically hurt.”

Californian woman Bjonda Haliti documented her experience on Twitter, after struggling to find a doctor who would test her for the virus.

This is her experience:






“I was utterly exhausted.”

Anesthetist Chris Gough, who is currently recovering from COVID-19, has been sharing his experience on Twitter.


Over the course of the virus, Gough has experienced a range of symptoms including fever, exhaustion, fatigue, loss of appetite, coughing, and headaches.

You can read his experience below:






“It was abrupt.”

Dr Yale Tung Chen, who is based in Madrid, Spain, has also been sharing his experience of coronavirus on social media.

The emergency department doctor shared that the first symptoms he experienced were “abrupt”.

“It was abrupt low grade fever in setting with many patients COVID-19+, which prompted the test,” he wrote on Twitter.

After receiving a positive test result, Dr Chen is self-isolating. Throughout the course of the virus, he has experienced a sore throat, headache, dry cough, and exhaustion.

So far, Dr Chen hasn’t experienced fever or shortness of breath.


“It lasted 10 to 16 days.”

Elizabeth Schneider caught coronavirus after attending a house party in Seattle. Forty per cent of the people who attended the party contracted the illness.

The 37-year-old described her experience on Instagram last week, describing her symptoms as: “Headache, fever, severe body aches and joint pain, and severe fatigue”.

“I had a fever that spiked the first night to 103 degrees (39.4 Celsius), which eventually came down to 100 (37.7 Celsius),” she said.

“I felt nauseous. Once the fever is gone, some were left with nasal congestion, sore throat. The total duration of the illness was 10 to 16 days.”

“I thought I was knocking on hell’s door.”

Tiger Ye (a pseudonym) is a 21-year-old student based in Wuhan, China. After contracting the virus, Ye wondered if he was going to die.

Speaking to Time, Ye shared that he felt weak, was unable to finish meals and had a raised temperature.

“I suffered from a high fever and pains that tortured every part of my body,” he said, opening up about the first four days of the virus.


Ye also experienced an intense cough. “I thought I was knocking on hell’s door,” he admitted.

Ye has since recovered from the virus.

“Every pore on my body opened.”

British couple David and Sally Abel were both onboard the Diamond Princess Cruise ship. In mid-February, the couple tested positive for the virus.

The couple were taken to a Japanese hospital, with David’s symptoms making him feel “a bit weird”.

symptoms of coronavirus david abel sally abel
Image: Facebook.

"Outside the hospital I came over a bit weird and nearly passed out. Every pore on my body opened and I was wheelchaired to our room," the 74-year-old said.

"Full health inspection and now we know what's going on. We both contracted a cold (unaware of) and it has not yet turned into pneumonia. (We do have coronavirus)."

The couple have since recovered and are now back in the United Kingdom.

"I didn't feel a thing."

Australian couple Amber Celik and Daniel Tester were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined off the coast of Japan in February.

Despite testing positive for the virus, the pair didn't experience any symptoms.

"I didn’t feel a thing. I didn’t feel any symptoms all the way through and to be honest it was a massive shock finding out just as we were thinking we’d embark on the plane to Darwin," Tester said on The Project.

Image: Channel 10.

Tester had recently had Influenza A, which he said was worse than COVID-19.

Amber had a sore throat on February 4 – the first day the ship was quarantined – but that was her only symptom.

"I wouldn't have known I had it if there wasn't a result showing I did. With all the hysteria and all the concern about it, I thought that I would be feeling a lot of symptoms or being really unwell, so I was really thankful that I was fine," Celik said.

"It was totally mild."

Californian man Carl Goldman caught the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship as well.

“Other than my very high temperature and the dry cough that persists, it was totally mild, not like a regular cold where you sneeze, sniffle, have a sore throat – none of that," he told the BBC.

"I didn’t even get body aches, I did not get chills and heavy sweating when I had my high fever. I would rank it as a very minor cold."


Writing for The Washington PostGoldman wrote: "The sickest I’ve ever been was when I had bronchitis several years ago. This has been much easier – no chills, no body aches. I breathe easily and I don’t have a stuffy nose.

"My chest feels tight and I have coughing spells. If I were at home with similar symptoms, I probably would have gone to work as usual."

"I just wanted to curl up in a ball."

British man Connor Reed was one of the first to contract the coronavirus after working in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. He experienced more severe symptoms.

Speaking to The Guardian, he said he felt like he had an average cold towards the end of November.

So, what does it feel like when you have coronavirus? The Quicky explains. Post continues below.

"The problem with this virus is it progresses in stages, so you'll have a cold, you'll get better, you'll get worse, you'll get better then you'll get worse again," he said.

"Personally, I started with a cold. I got better from the cold, that's when I was hit with the flu, but I got better from the flu and that's when I got hit with pneumonia and the pneumonia stage, because I've never experienced that before, that's when I went to the hospital and got it checked out. I was feeling achy, I just wanted to curl up into a ball. I had ear problems and sinus problems, where it felt like there was a balloon being blown up in my face.


"From there that's where the pneumonia stage hit and that came very suddenly. It was a case of going to bed and waking up not being able to breathe. It scared me because if you have the flu, you feel like you're going to die but you're really not, but when your lungs get affected that's where it scared me and I couldn't take a full breath."

Feature Images: Facebook.

For more on COVID-19:

The Australian Government Department of Health advises that the only people who will be tested for COVID-19 are those with symptoms who have either returned from overseas in the past 14 days or been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days. 

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

The current situation around COVID-19 might be making you feel scared or uncertain. It's okay to feel this way, but it's also important to learn how to manage feelings of anxiety during this time. To download the free PDF: Anxiety & Coronavirus - How to Manage Feelings of Anxiety click here.

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