It’s now day seven for the three-generation Austen family, and Grandma is the latest member to receive COVID-19.
Tanya Austen has posted daily posts to the Canberra Notice Board Group on Facebook about her household journey after her two grandchildren, four-year-old Ellie Rose and three-year-old Dakota, returned positive COVID-19 test results last week.
The virus has spread like wildfire through five of the seven household members despite their best efforts to contain it with face masks, quarantine in bedrooms and extensive sanitation and disinfection.
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Tanya is the only one in the household who has received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. One had received their first dose of Pfizer and the rest of the adults were booked for their first.
She feels “under the air” but remains optimistic, confident in knowing the vaccine’s effectiveness in relieving symptoms.
“I have a mild itchy throat and occasional sneezing. No fever, a slight dry cough develops, but not chest or severe or the like. I do not feel like I want to curl up in a corner and sleep all day. ”
She can still taste and says that the only strange symptom is in her arthritic knees and hips that hurt more than usual.
Tanja’s son’s partner, Jackie, went to Canberra Hospital late last week after the oxymometer at her fingertips revealed that her oxygen content had dropped. With Jackie’s existing medical conditions, ACT Health officials thought it best to play it safe and get her closer to advanced care if symptoms worsened.
Tanya describes the following as 48 hours of “scary stuff”.
“Many wires, pipes and tests for now, but she’s in a good mood,” she wrote six posts today.
“We are very lucky with modern technologies; we can see her through the camera and hear her voice through the phone. We wish we could be there with her, but we also fully understand why that is not possible right now. ”
Jackie came home from the hospital in time for dinner Monday night.
“She and my son jump back pretty well,” Tanya says.
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As for the young girls who started the household trials after infecting the virus in day care, ACT Health officials have declared them both COVID-free. However, they are still facing a further 14 days of quarantine and another test before being considered safe to re-emerge.
Tanya is still worried about her partner, who is vulnerable due to acute respiratory problems.
“There has always been a fear that he should get COVID-19 ever since it occurred.”
She says that when the SARS pandemic hit in 2003, he got it and got through it without treatment or hospitalization. Since the SARS-CoV virus is in the same family as the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the one behind COVID-19, she hopes that this previous encounter has given him some natural immunity.
“With fingers crossed. Hopefully that’s what has kept him negative so far, but we will still keep him safe.”
Tanya says ACT Health remains a “real constant” and calls at least once a day to check on the family despite facing stretched resources as case numbers rise across the region. Each family member is tested every other day.
“Every other day we knock on the door. Someone comes to test us, check our quality of life and do a general welfare check just to make sure we are well. It is very comforting. ”
Tanya says no one is on the verge of killing each other, despite having been locked inside the house for almost 10 days now. She and the girls have spent their days painting, gardening and finding other inventive and fun ways to help pass the time.
She says a highlight for the girls was Jackie, who came home from the hospital with two face shields.
“It was like the golden toy. They have been over the moon since they got their own superpower face shield. ”
As stressful, frustrating and frightening as the experience is, Tanya says that spending so much time with her family is a “blessing in disguise”.