Byron Bay filmmaker Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar said the ordeal had taken a huge toll on her health.
Byron Bay filmmaker Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar said the ordeal had taken a huge toll on her health.

Aussie still has virus after 68 days

It has been a total of 68 days since 35-year-old Byron Bay filmmaker Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar first began to feel unwell.

It was after she returned to Australia on a flight from Germany in March when she began to experience shortness of breath and a dry cough - symptoms she would later discover were due to the coronavirus.

She told ABC's 7.30 she thought she'd recovered on April 25 after she received a letter from NSW Health telling her she was free to leave isolation.

But only three days later, six weeks after she first fell ill, she ended up back in hospital after experiencing severe chest pain. She was diagnosed with coronavirus again.

"I've never had this sensation before; fatigue and brain fog and I just want to rest all day," she told ABC.

"The symptoms, the way they kind of come and go and shift and change, it kind of sends you a bit loopy, like really, is this happening?"

NSW Health says people with confirmed COVID-19 are considered to no longer be infectious when at least 10 days has passed since they first became unwell and they have been free of symptoms for three days.

Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar first began to feel ill after a flight from Germany. Picture: Facebook
Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar first began to feel ill after a flight from Germany. Picture: Facebook

However, 68 days after she was first diagnosed, Ms Nicholson-McKellar tested positive for the virus for a third time on Monday.

She told the ABC the ordeal has taken a huge toll on her health. She's been in isolation for over two months now and wants her ordeal to end, saying she wants to be better and "wants it to be over".

"It's really such a struggle, with so much unknown and people and doctors and the health profession not being able to answer these questions of when will I recover? When am I going to stop being contagious? Am I still contagious?" she said.

"They don't even know that and I don't know that and it's really challenging."

Globally, there is growing evidence the coronavirus can affect different people in different ways - meaning length of the infection, severity of the symptoms and the recovery process all vary from person to person.

In Canada, one woman says she's had the coronavirus for 50 days, and even though she's started feeling better, she still keeps testing positive.

Tracy Schofield, who is a nurse, told Canada's CTV News she started having coronavirus symptoms on March 30. The next day she got her first COVID-19 test, which came back positive. It would be Schofield's first test of many - she's had eight more since.

She experienced chills, a headache, difficulty breathing and a fever, she told CTV. After 50 days, she still has some lingering symptoms and is now worried COVID-19 could cause long-term problems.

"I still to this day have shortness of breath," Ms Schofield told CTV. "COVID-19 has taken a lot out of me, and it continues every day."

She was hoping she'd be fully recovered by now, nearly two months after her first symptoms, but she has taken a total of nine coronavirus tests and only one came back negative.

Professor Tim Spector, of King's College London, estimates that a small but significant number of people are suffering from the "long tail" form of the virus.

He says that about 200,000 of the four million people using the university's COVID-19 tracker app are reporting symptoms which have lasted for the duration of the study, which is six weeks.

He told The Guardian, many of these people only have mild symptoms, but he believes governments should be paying attention to these cases rather than just those who end up in hospital.

"These people may be going back to work and not performing at the top of their game," he said. "There is a whole other side to the virus which has not had attention because of the idea that 'if you are not dead you are fine'."


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