Revealed: How long it takes to recover from COVID-19

 

The road to recovery from COVID-19 seems a long and varied one.

Australia recorded its first case of coronavirus on January 25. We now have 5908 cases, 45 have died as of 3pm April 7, but only 1080 have recovered according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre.

Worldwide there have been more than 1.3 million cases with close to 75,000 deaths and only 277,000 have recovered.

Infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon said there was still much to learn about the virus but recovery clearly depends on the individual.

Professor Peter Collignon says recovery from coronavirus can rnage from days to months.
Professor Peter Collignon says recovery from coronavirus can rnage from days to months.

"Recovery is variable, if you are in ICU, it takes a lot longer to recover than if you are just at home sick, so your recovery depends on how sick you got in the first place. The vast majority have had a mild illness and it was like the flu and they got over it in a few days.

"We know we can detect it for two weeks or longer after you have had it, there is a lot we still don't know, but basically the sicker you get, the longer it takes to recover," Prof Collignon said.

In NSW alone, 2686 have confirmed COVID-19 with 21 deaths. There are 37 cases in Intensive Care Units, and 24 require ventilation.

It is clear from overseas cases that patients can spend up to four weeks on ventilation, while others infected with the virus barely have symptoms. Take the case of Michael and Helen Pitt from Canberra.

Michael Pitt, 73 is seriously unwell in Calvary Hospital in Canberra after he and wife Helen contracted COVID-19 onboard the Ruby Princess.
Michael Pitt, 73 is seriously unwell in Calvary Hospital in Canberra after he and wife Helen contracted COVID-19 onboard the Ruby Princess.

Battling a hacking cough and struggling to breathe from his ICU bed in Calvary Hospital, Mr Pitt, 73, is reliant on oxygen and can only talk in short bouts. Both he and his wife Helen contracted the virus on the Ruby Princess where they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

"I am pretty sick, it's not nice, I've been on oxygen," he told The Daily Telegraph.

While Mr Flynn has now been in hospital for two weeks, Mrs Flynn, 75, also positive, has barely had a symptom.

"I'm fine. Michael had a bit off a cough when we came home, then he got sick on the Monday (23rd March) he was admitted to ICU with a high temperature and trouble breathing," she said.

Rona Dobrin, 75 and Michael Dobrin, 82 also tested positive for COVID-19 after their Ruby Princess Cruise. The couple from Bellevue Hill went to St Vincent's Hospital on Saturday the 21st of March to get tested.

Rona, 75, and Michael Dobrin, 82, of Bellview Hill, also caught COVID-19 during their cruise onboard the Ruby Princess.
Rona, 75, and Michael Dobrin, 82, of Bellview Hill, also caught COVID-19 during their cruise onboard the Ruby Princess.

Both are now clear of the virus as of the weekend, three weeks after first experiencing mild symptoms.

"We got off the Ruby on Thursday and went to St Vincent's Saturday and that night we got the phone call 'you're positive' and you could have knocked me over with a feather, I could not believe it, we had no idea.

"All we had was a cough, starting coughing about two days before we got into Sydney, it is the only symptom we had.

"It's very weird virus, hopefully now we may be immune," Mrs Dobrin said.

 

 

With the peak in Australia now considered to be March 25, Prof Collignon says we will see a rise in deaths due to an estimated three week lag, but then we should expect to see the death rate slow down.

"Deaths lag two weeks after the number of cases and our peak was the 25th of March, so we will get increasing deaths over the next few days and then the death numbers will start falling again," Prof Collignon said.

"By the time you get sick and go to hospital and then to ICU that is maybe three weeks after initial diagnosis, so there is a lag with deaths three weeks after our peak."

Rona and Michael Dobrin with American friends Bert and Harriet Reitman (left) from Florida onboard the Ruby Princess. Harriet also contracted COVID-19.
Rona and Michael Dobrin with American friends Bert and Harriet Reitman (left) from Florida onboard the Ruby Princess. Harriet also contracted COVID-19.

The youngest person to die in NSW was a 61-year-old male and the eldest was a 95-year-old female, but the majority of those who have died were over 80. According to Chinese data from the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, those over 70 have an 8 per cent chance of death and those over 80, a 14 per cent chance of dying.

The good news is that Australia's death rate is less than 1 per cent, much lower than other countries. The US death rate is close to 3 per cent, Italy 7 per cent, and China 2.3 per cent.

"We have a lower death rate because we have diagnosed more people and because we are doing more testing and we have low transmission in the community. We also have lower antibiotic resistance in the community than most other countries because secondary bacterial infections are an issue and we haven't had our ICUs and hospitals overloaded, so people can be looked after," Prof Collignon said.

 

Originally published as Revealed: How long it takes to recover from COVID-19



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