Woman told to drop everything over COVID-19 suspicions
IT was like a scene from a movie except the main character was embarrassed to be the star.
A bright light shone into the dark of Cassie's front yard as paramedics in full protective gear exited the ambulance.
They told her to drop her bag and hold out her hands.
Hand sanitiser. The first of many applications to be administered within the next five minutes as they instructed the 26-year-old to don a mask, gloves and protective suit of her own.
"It was scary," she said.
"They spoke to me from a distance and passed me the outfit I had to put on.
"Then they told me step by step instructions, including when to wash my hands, and when I had to get into the ambulance where I had to try to not touch anything."
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in QLD
In the back of her mind, Cassie, who asked for her surname to not be used, pictured neighbours peeking out of their homes to watch the surreal scene unfold.
Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
The Brassall woman had gotten off the phone with someone from Queensland Health only about 30 minutes earlier, where she had been shocked by the news that she had tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Told to leave her possibly contaminated bag behind, Cassie was taken straight to Ipswich's West Moreton hospital.
Although the childcare educator had no idea she had caught the virus, also known as Covid-19, she felt immense guilt.
"I feel so guilty because I could have possibly passed the infection onto many people," she said.
"Not only that, but now there are so many families in quarantine that may go through financial hardship.
"All the (families of the toddlers) I look after went into quarantine and anyone else I had close contact with."
Cassie - who lives with her fiancé Michael and her older brother, Clinton - is now home but restricted to a bedroom with an ensuite.
Neither Michael nor Clinton can go to work, as they too are now in quarantine as a precaution, although both have tested negative for the virus.
Only a week earlier, on March 11, Cassie had woken up with a bad headache.
Thinking she had hurt her neck, she went to work caring for toddlers at a daycare.
She had had the headache for three days when a friend rang her work on March 13 to let her know that friend's husband had tested positive for coronavirus.
Cassie and other mates had been on a girls night in Surfers Paradise the night of March 7 when they ran into the friend and her husband outside a club.
They spent two hours together before heading home.
At the time, there were no shutdowns enforced but the husband had not long returned from overseas.
A few days later, Cassie said her friend's husband started to feel unwell and was later found to be positive for coronavirus.
That's when she got the phone call at work.
"I immediately took myself away from the children and isolated myself while I took it all in," she said.
Cassie was now also having hot and cold sweats at night, so was sent for testing.
As a precaution, she self-isolated herself while waiting on the test.
Michael has been leaving his fiancé food on disposable plates outside her door and they have only communicated via video chat for almost two weeks.
Cassie, who kept a diary of her daily symptoms, said her appetite disappeared, she became fatigued and started to get a sore throat following the first day of her headache.
By day five of her symptoms, Cassie said there was massive pressure in her head, she had sore muscles, high temperatures, nausea and some diarrhoea.
She had also lost her sense of taste and smell, was coughing up phlegm and her "chest felt heavy."
"The symptoms are hard to understand because I have allergies as well, neck problems and asthma, but put them all that together and you could have COVID," she said.
Once diagnosed, Cassie spent four nights in hospital, before being sent home to continue her quarantine.
"I'm struggling with the fact I haven't been around people in my house for 11 days and am not allowed to go outside or anything," she said.
The man's wife and the other women with them on the night have all tested negative for COVID-19.
Cassie said she was shocked and wants others to take the efforts to control the virus seriously.
"I just want people to be aware. It is out there. It's here now," she said.
"Take it seriously, stay home if you're sick."
EFFECT ON FAMILIES
Cassie said her feelings of regret and guilt were compounded when it became known the daycare she works at had to be closed and sanitised, which led to strangers posting ignorant comments on social media
"I'm (now) already not in a good spot mentally and now the whole region is going to know it," she wrote on Facebook as part of her diary.
"I was so scared to tell people what I had because of the way it's made out to be, people are scared, I understand."
Cassie said she and her flatmates were lucky.
"At the moment, we've been OK because we've had heaps of support from Michael's mum buying food for us," she said.
Shireen Pitt, 53, of Purga, said she was disgusted by the way strangers had criticised her future daughter-in-law.
"Once your family has been tagged with coronavirus you are treated like you are a leper," she said.
"This is not a time you turn on each other.
"Cassie had not been overseas. She did not deliberately walk into work with coronavirus."
Mrs Pitt said she wanted to educate others how just having one person in the family diagnosed could affect many.
She said she her husband, Steve, 59, had underlying health issues so were concerned about contracting the virus, but they couldn't leave their quarantined family members without help.
"Michael doesn't know how they're going to pay their rent. He can't go to work or the shops because he's now in quarantine," she said.
"So I've been doing the shopping for the three … Having to get groceries for two households doubles my risk of exposure.
"When it happens to you, don't go after the people who got it. They didn't know they were exposed to it or that they had it."
Originally published as What happens when you get diagnosed with Covid-19