Living with chronic fatigue and a weak immune system is the new normal for Kobi Gibson, more than a year after she received COVID-19.
- Kobi Gibson contracted COVID-19 last year and is still living with debilitating symptoms
- Regional Queensland has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Australia
- Medical experts are concerned about what will happen if the virus spreads to regional areas
The 32-year-old health and fitness fanatic, who lives in Mount Isa, in northwestern Queensland, is frustrated by the low number of foreigners being vaccinated.
Parts of the Queensland region have some of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, with only about a third of residents receiving both injections.
Mrs Gibson said she would not want her symptoms on anyone and urges rural Queenslanders to be proactive with vaccination.
“If I can stop anyone from going through what I have, by encouraging them to get that vaccination … that’s what I want,” she said.
Comes with long COVID-19
Mrs Gibson contracted COVID-19 last year while living in England.
At that time, she suffered from fever, body aches, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and loss of taste and smell.
However, the symptoms were not severe enough for her to be hospitalized. Instead, she was forced to recover at her residence in London before she could fly home to Mount Isa.
“At the time, they did not have the testing equipment that they have today, so it was only when I came home to Australia that I could be tested and found out I had COVID-19,” she said.
The podiatrist has since had to adapt to drastic life changes.
“People joke that losing my sense of smell is a gift as a podiatrist.”
“If I push myself too hard at work or too hard in the gym, my body will just sleep for two weeks.
“Chicken tastes to me. There was a point where I threw all this chicken, but later discovered that it was my taste that had been affected by COVID-19.
“My immune system is much worse than before. Every cold that goes around, I get it.”
For someone who is passionate about personal well-being, Ms. Gibson said her mental health had taken a hit.
“I am such an active person and I love being outdoors,” she said.
“On the days when I can not get up and I can not go to boxing when my body is not functioning as it used to and just wanted to sleep, I feel like I am wasting the day and I hate that.
“There is no treatment for long COVID-19. I take many vitamins, but there is nothing else that can be done.”
Mrs Gibson said Queenslanders in rural areas were running out of time and apologies.
“I find the complacency very frustrating. We are so privileged to live in Australia where we have access to a vaccine that is free,” she said.
The North West Hospital and Health Service (NWHHS), director of nursing, midwifery and clinical management, Michelle Garner, warned that it was only a matter of time before the virus spread to rural areas of the state.
“It’s so important that we do not get a draw and think that because we are in remote areas, it will not touch us because it will.”
NWHHS Acting CEO Dr. Karen Murphy said that if vaccination rates did not increase significantly, rural areas would suffer.
“It is entering our communities, and without protection through the vaccine, many of our people will become ill and potentially die.”
As a podiatrist working with Indigenous people, Gibson said she was particularly concerned about the virus’ impact on First Nations communities.
“Chronic illness disproportionately affects unborn Australians compared to other Australians, meaning Indigenous Australians are more likely to die from COVID-19,” she said.
“The most important message I want to convey is just getting vaccinated, protecting your family, protecting your friends, protecting yourself.”