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EXCLUSIVE: "I was shaking uncontrollably". Six people in one house in Orange have Covid

January 7, 2022

"Fatigue and fevers were the worst." Stock image.

By Peter Holmes

A household of six in Orange - all of whom have tested positive to Covid - is currently riding a wave of fatigue and fever as it battles with the virus.

There are two unvaccinated people in the house - one of them is too young to be vaccinated. There is also an Indigenous man with asthma.

On Friday afternoon I spoke with Ella*, believed to be the first person in the house to become infected.

She wanted to warn people about rapid antigen tests (she had two negative rapid antigen tests before a PCR showed she was positive).

This is her story. *All names have been changed to protect privacy.

"I'm allowed to leave isolation today, after seven days. I find it really strange, it doesn't seem like long enough.

We'd been camping and it was really cold, and I had a bit of a sore throat. This was December 30.

I was going downtown to see Tony and have breakfast at a café and all of a sudden it was like I was hit by a freight train.

This intense fatigue came over me, it was ridiculous. I stopped and said, 'No we can't go, I need to get a test'.

We went to a few shops to try and get a rapid antigen test (RAT) but couldn't find one. I thought, 'I can't be walking around like this'.

We got in the car went and got the PCR - lined up for ages.

The queue for PCR testing at Wade Park this week. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

They were saying the test result would take a long time; they couldn't give me a time frame.

I was like, 'Alright'. I called lots of places to find one of these rapid tests to get it confirmed, and I couldn't find any in Orange.

I called my mum, she found some in Blayney and dropped them on our front doorstep.

I googled the brand - they weren't super-flash, but they were high-sensitivity. I went and did one immediately and came up negative.

Because we'd been camping and it was really cold I thought I'd picked up a sore throat. I did another test that night to be sure, it came back negative.

I thought I must be negative.

I thought it was a reliable test - people are using them to be able to cross borders and to be able to go back to work.

But they are obviously not infallible.

On New Year's Eve I started to feel pretty ordinary, and by the first of January it was pretty f*cked.

Fatigue and fevers were the worst.

I was shaking uncontrollably, I was a mess. I had a sore throat, coughing, tightness in my chest and - although I didn't realise it immediately - I lost my sense of taste and my appetite. Anything I ate tasted awful.

I had intense sweats, drenching my bed.

After almost a week I got the result to my PCR test - positive.

I freaked out, I absolutely lost it.

I knew I'd left the house. I'm always pretty safe, and was extra safe when I did leave the house, but I was like 'My God, I can't believe I was so stupid to believe the rapid tests'. I thought they were OK.

I'd had my hair done before Christmas and they said 'Don't worry we've all done rapid antigen tests, all fine, no worries, all good'.

People say there are really flash tests, and that's well and good if you can get one. There are low-sensitivity, high-sensitivity and very high-sensitivity tests, and mine were high.

I think they are giving people a false sense of security.

There are five other people in the house - my partner Tony, my children Alice, Billy and Dylan, and Dylan's partner Elizabeth.

Everyone in the house has it.

Dylan [in his 20s] is unvaccinated - he has fevers and fatigue. Alice is too young to be vaccinated and she also has fevers and fatigue.

Tony has shortness of breath, he has bad asthma. There have been a couple of times when we've thought 'Do we need to get him to the hospital?'.

I think the testing numbers are so false. I didn't get a result for five days - they are so behind that I feel it's not reflective.

I have been completely freaking out through this whole thing.

I have heard nothing from the government or anyone else, no advice, other than a text message with same information that's online.

Tony has been contacted twice by Indigenous services.

I was told after seven days I could leave the house without having another test, unless I had symptoms.

In the house at the moment there are bodies laying everywhere, watching movies, and boxes of tissues everywhere. We're all trying to stay away from each other, in our own rooms doing our own thing.

I just want people to realise that these RATs aren't the be-all and end-all; the way they're being spruiked is giving people a false sense of security.

It was rough, unlike anything I've experienced in my life."

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