“I’m glad I played it safe”: COVID-19 survivor encourages testing

Recovered COVID-19 patient Mohammed Zelka, pictured with his mother and younger sister.

Mohammed Zelka was supposed to be enjoying life as a student in Poland this year.

But while COVID-19 interrupted his plans and even hit him personally, the 25-year-old considers himself one of the lucky ones.

Mohammed self-isolated from the moment he re-entered the country, was diagnosed early, and received expert advice and care throughout his journey from the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Public Health Unit and COVID-19 Community Monitoring Clinic.

“I only ever got mild symptoms of the disease. A dry cough, discomfort in my chest and some difficulty breathing, that was pretty much it,” he said.

“If this was any other year then I probably would’ve kept going about my life with something like that. I’m glad I played it safe and got tested straight away.”

Mohammed is a medical student

Mohammed returned home in March and took every precaution necessary.

As a medicine student he knew how dangerous COVID-19 could be for his family at home, including his 85-year-old grandmother with diabetes.

His parents dropped off a car at the airport for him to drive home, which they disinfected before using again, and he immediately began to isolate in a self-contained part of the family’s Castle Hill home.

“At first it seemed unnecessary, but after about five days I started developing symptoms. Then I discovered there was a confirmed case on my flight,” Mohammed said.

“I called the National Coronavirus Helpline and they confirmed I was eligible for testing, so I went to Westmead Hospital. The next day I got a call confirming I had tested positive and explaining what would happen next.”

Mohammed continued to isolate at home and received a daily call from the WSLHD Integrated & Community Health COVID-19 Community Monitoring Clinic, then every second day as his symptoms improved.

All told, he was sick for about 10 days and never developed a fever or any severe illness. Life returned to relative normality when he was given the all-clear in mid-April.

“Overall it was a very boring experience being in self-isolation. But it was nice to receive those personalised daily check-ins from the nurse assigned to my case, I’m thankful for that,” Mohammed said.

“I can now spend time with my family again and I’m continuing with my online learning. I’m looking forward to when this is all over and life goes back to normal.”

Some restrictions were eased last week, but Australians are encouraged to play it safe for Mother’s Day.

Stay home if  you are even slightly unwell, and maintain a safe distance of 1.5m from people outside your own household, especially those aged over 70.

Anyone with any symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested now. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue (unexplained tiredness) and shortness of breath.

You do not need an appointment to get tested at any NSW Health COVID-19 clinic. Find your nearest location here.