A young Melbourne nurse who was treating seriously ill COVID-19 patients before contracting the virus himself has described its “devastating” impact.
- Daniel says it was “heartbreaking” to see patients die without their families
- After contracting the virus himself, the nurse says he has “a bit of fear” despite his young age
- He urges Victorians to work together to beat the virus by staying home where they can
In a video shared by the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Daniel said he had been working “in the thick of the COVID response” on the frontline.
He said since early July he had been working with “amazing, skilled” other health professionals in community testing, including at pop-up clinics and the Flemington and North Melbourne public housing blocks.
“Every day I went to work there was just this air of nervousness and worry among my colleagues as we all wondered whether we were going to get the virus and infect our friends, our family,” he said.
There are now nearly 1,000 active coronavirus cases in healthcare workers across the state.
A further 1,688 active infections are linked to aged care, with a mix of residents and workers infected by the virus.
“As COVID cases increased, so did the strain on healthcare workers and outbreaks started happening in aged care,” Daniel, who only wanted to be known by his first name, said.
As aged care residents were moved out of nursing homes and into hospitals, Daniel put his hand up to work at the hospital’s aged care centres.
On his first day in the new role, he saw two people die and treated many more seriously ill patients.
On his third shift, Daniel said he arrived to find a patient he had been joking with a day earlier “really struggling to breathe”.
“I was trying to reassure him as best I could and everything we tried, it just didn’t really do anything,” he said.
“And then his family called, and they had to say their goodbyes over the phone, and it was one of the most heartbreaking things, that his family couldn’t spend it with him.
Ten days afterwards, and now diagnosed with the virus himself, Daniel said he would be lying if he did not say there was “a bit of fear and trepidation” after seeing first-hand how the virus acted.
“I’ve really been in the thick of the COVID response and really been on the front line and I’ve seen how devastating the virus can be,” he said.
Recording the video from hotel quarantine six days into his illness, Daniel said his symptoms ranged from a cough to a loss of smell and taste.
But he knew from experience that this was often the stage where people’s health deteriorated, and he was worried about the long-term effects of his illness.
A growing number of young people have contracted the virus in Victoria, including three children under the age of 10 currently in hospital — one of those receiving intensive care.
Two men in their 30s have now died after contracting COVID-19.
Daniel appealed for people to recognise the virus was a global health emergency and stay at home where they could.
“It might suck that we have to stay inside, or wear masks, but the end goal is that we do reduce the cases and life can return to some semblance as normal,” he said.
He said before people can see their friends or have a drink at the pub “we have to beat it together first”.
“Trust me, I’ve got COVID, I’m young, and it sucks. It sucks,” he said.