An Australian woman who tested positive to coronavirus has spoken out about her diagnosis after initially begging her parents to keep her condition a secret.
Gretel Harvey, from Brisbane, fell ill with COVID-19 after returning from her overseas holiday to London and Morocco on Thursday.
The 26-year-old became ‘rapidly unwell’, experiencing severe symptoms and difficulty breathing before receiving news that she had contracted the virus two days later.
Ms Harvey, who runs a catering business, opened up on being one of the 2,000-plus Australians who have tested positive for coronavirus, revealing how the stigma surrounding the disease prompted her to ‘selfishly’ keep it under wraps.
Gretel Harvey, from Brisbane, became ill with COVID-19 after returning from her overseas holiday to London and Morocco on Thursday
Ms Harvey said it wasn’t until she became ill and confined to her empty house, unable to see her family, boyfriend and friends, that reality set in
‘Two days ago, you couldn’t have paid me to do this. But after some deep thinking and perspective, I feel somewhat compelled,’ she said in a Facebook post on Monday.
‘After returning from my trip on Thursday, I became rapidly unwell and on Saturday received a positive result for COVID19.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 2,363
New South Wales: 1029
Western Australia: 175
South Australia: 170
Australian Capital Territory: 39
Northern Territory: 5
TOTAL CASES: 2,363
‘Naturally, out of selfish panic I sent my family into silence and begged them not to tell anyone. Why? Who would buy food from the COVID girl? My business could not possibly survive a positive result.’
Like most young Australians, Ms Harvey admitted she initially had a flippant attitude towards the outbreak and never imagined she would be one of the thousands to catch the virus.
It wasn’t until she actually became ill and confined to her empty house, unable to see her family, boyfriend and friends, that reality set in.
‘For the entire duration of my trip, I joked about catching this disease. I shared memes, I made jokes, I thought I was invincible. Had I known what I know now, there is no way I would’ve gone on that holiday. Hindsight, huh?’ she added.
‘I’ve been to some dark places in the last three days. Not only am I incredibly unwell, I am lonely, I am stressed, I am sad, I am scared.
‘I didn’t see the face or hair colour of a single person that looked after me whilst in hospital and I am yet to wrap my arms around the ones I love.’
Although she felt shame over her health condition at first, Ms Harvey felt inclined to speak out and warn others to protect themselves after receiving an outpouring of support from loved ones.
Ms Harvey (pictured on holiday) admitted she initially had a flippant attitude towards the outbreak and never imagined she would be one of the thousands to catch the virus
‘I begged my family to not give people that opportunity because I was worried about the business, that nobody would ever buy from me ever again… how ridiculous,’ she added.
‘Right now, the ONLY important thing is protecting each other by alleviating the stress on our healthcare system.
‘If a 26yo, fit, healthy woman experienced the most sinister symptom of all – I cannot stress to you enough, how easily I have felt this virus’ ability to kill the elderly and compromised.’
Ms Harvey urged people to stay inside and call for the people to remove the stigma surrounding positive diagnoses.
‘STAY THE F INSIDE. Whilst the closure of our small businesses (mine included) for the foreseeable future makes this more achievable, it is a scary time for us all and our economy, but we are all riding this wave together.’
‘Finally – don’t be afraid of a positive result. I wish somebody had told me to ‘get over myself’. It is what it is. I am not the COVID girl. That’s just the selfish, panic story I’m telling myself.
‘There are so many bigger and more important things taking place right now than the reputation of my small business.
‘My health will return, the virus will go away, and in due course – the business will bounce back. I am optimistic about that. ‘
Ms Harvey’s post has received more than 800 likes and hundreds of comments praising her for her bravery.
‘Sending our love and good positive vibes your way beautiful girl. Your positivity will bring your health and business back,’ one person commented.
Another added: ‘Great wake up call for all those getting around in denial… Thanks for sharing..hope your feeling better soon.’