Australia’s first person to person transmission of COVID-19, Anna Liptak shares her story of surviving COVID-19.

Anna Liptak portrait

Anna is one of the unlucky 20% who developed severe symptoms.  Anna received her second negative COVID-19 test two days ago, but is still dealing with the pneumonia side effects today. 

Anna’s blood has been collected from the start and she hopes that it will be used to find a cure….soon.  #MyBodyCan

 

INTERVIEWS ARE AVAILABLE NOW WITH ANNA

 

About Anna Liptak, chief trainer and owner of His & Her Time and Adventure Time Travel (Specialising in Marathon running holiday packages), sister to football legend, Matthew Liptak and producer of I’m Not a Runner – a documentary currently under production about everyday Australians changing their belief in their body, and following their journey to running the New York Marathon. Anna has run 25 marathons and is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings.

 

Anna Liptak’s Story

 

My name is Anna Liptak. I am a COVID-19 survivor from Adelaide, South Australia and this is my story.

I was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday,12th of March 2020. 

I was the first person to get the Coronavirus through person to person transmission in Australia.

On Sunday first of March I had attended an International Film Conference in Melbourne for a documentary we have been filming over the last two years about everyday Australian’s training for the New York Marathon called - I’m Not a Runner.

At this stage COVID-19 had not hit the shores of Australia and it was not even a point of discussion.  I had not even considered it as a remote issue.

The Conference was very well attended with people from all over the world including the US, UK, Spain and Italy.

I was on top of the world as there was so much interest in our documentary from both a broadcast and national and international distribution perspective, so my team and I came home, filled with optimism and excitement.

On the last day of the conference, I had a headache – but I’d had one on and off for the last few weeks so didn’t think much of it.

I arrived home on the evening of Wednesday, 4th of March and my headache intensified with a dull ache at the front of my head into the next day.  By this point I had also developed a minor cough.  My PA and I laughed that I had “the Coronavirus” – still thinking it was something that was happening in other  countries - not ours.

On Friday, I woke up at 5am and didn’t feel great and made an appointment to see the doctor at 11am the same day.  By 9am I started to fade with fever symptoms taking hold (the sweats, headache and sore throat).

As soon as I arrived at the doctor’s surgery they supplied me with a mask and put me into isolation, recognising that my symptoms were consistent with COVID–19.

Although at this stage it was still very new to Australia and only three people had been diagnosed in SA.

The Doctor dressed in a mask, gloves and surgical outfit, took my temperature which was normal and said that I had sinusitis.  He did emphasis if it became worse to ensure I contacted him immediately. From this day I was self-isolating without actually knowing it.

I went home and stayed in bed for the next 3 days.

I had a fever, temperature and my sore throat developed into a cough. I also had a very sore stomach. Recognising that I was getting worse, I took myself be tested for Coronavirus. After waiting for 1.5 hours in a line in the sun with a fever to be told that I was very low risk, but could be tested if I waited another two hours if I wanted.

By this stage I felt dreadful and could not wait another 2 hours in the sun to get checked (there were no seats offered to us or even water).

At that time, my husband sent through a text about the Repat opening a drive through testing station the next day, Wednesday. I decided to go home and ring my Doctor for a referral to be tested through the drive through option. I went back to bed and the next day at 11am I was tested.

Up until the Wednesday none of my family had been sick at all, and you need to remember at this stage there were only 3 cases in SA so we were still being told we were extremely low risk. However on the Wednesday morning I heard one of my family members coughing and kept him at home from that time also. On Wednesday I had a very bad coughing episode in bed – this was really the one and only time I had really coughed with the virus.

On Thursday for some reason I kept my entire family home and on the same day it was confirmed I was COVID–19 positive.

This was the day the earth stood still. I remember vividly wishing the world would stop about two months prior so I could catch up with it – be careful what you wish for! Your mind is a very powerful thing, I of all people know this.  Why didn’t I wish to win the lottery? At this stage I probably had just as much chance!

The Infectious Disease Control Centre were immediate in their response and I spoke with them for a few hours relaying to them who I had been in contact with over the past 20 days. Lucky for them my social life had really been non existent. They contacted everyone immediately and those that they thought remunerable were tested including my family.

I was collected by an ambulance, masked and taken in through the back entrance with the hallways and hospital cleared on my entrance. It was extremely surreal.

All the staff – including the ambulance personal, security and medical staff were excellent in reassuring me that I would be ok. I was put into an isolation room which had its own air and equipment. Only one nursing staff member was allowed to see me per shift.

The Doctors assigned to me were excellent and worked extremely fast to get my tests done.

At this stage I was the 6th person to be diagnosed in SA and the first person to have contracted it within Australia from another person.

At 6.30pm I was taken for a scan of my chest which came back with the results that I had viral pneumonia – I was considered ‘critical’.

Currently, twenty percent of Coronavirus cases globally develop pneumonia and the other 80% don’t.

I am extremely fit and strong and they were confident they could monitor me safely in hospital.

On Friday morning I was informed that two of my family members had produced negative results but sadly one was positive. The same process then occurred with them.

I felt so sad for my family member.  It was one thing to deal with this myself – I was an adult but how was he going to cope?  All I wanted to do was hug him – the one thing I could not do! He was immediately isolated to one part of the house.

I felt hopeless in hospital and did not sleep well that night. My mood did not improve and it didn’t help waking up to the horrible and devastating images of people dying in Italy.

Was I going to die here? Never being able to see my family again? Would I ever be able to hug them again?

I read the story of the married couple who died in Sydney, isolated away from the world. It was devastating – a total nightmare. I then read about the lady in her 40s returning to Australia from the US and her mum had caught it from her and was now dead!!

Was my Mum at risk – would she die?  I couldn’t live with this. My Mum had seen me in the days I had been undiagnosed and sick – so she was now isolated away from the world (She is fine – thank god for that!).

The Doctors kept up their communication with me and all my tests started to normalise with everything soon out of the red, meaning I was improving each day. I am a fitness trainer and have been for the past 15 years. Eating healthily is part of my everyday. Essentially I knew I was strong and fit and this was not going to bring me down.  I practised what I preached and believed in my body.

Fortunately we have two houses and it came to light that the best situation for us would be to get the two negative family members to live at our holiday house and for me and my other family member to be together at home.

The Doctors organised for an ambulance to bring me home and from here all of my families anxiety lowered enormously!

Although we were separated, we were together in environments we called home.

It was so good for me to be at home with someone from my family. We were sick, but recovering now which helped our overall mood and outlook.

My biggest concern at that time was my family member’s welfare. He was devastated that people in our community knew it was “us” – he felt shamed - but he has dealt with this amazingly.

It has been really hard to be away from my other family members – who I worry about each day. How will this affect them?

We have had many members of our community drop us in fresh food, meals, coffees, green juices and written messages of support which have made our now 10 days of isolation a little more bearable.

I have enjoyed all the jokes that have been put on social media.  They have kept me laughing everyday! In fact I have collected them all on my phone and I bring them out to look at every few hours – I actually laugh out loud with them.

Each day it is really important for us to have a purpose at home.

My family member has been continuing his fitness sessions each day and now I am feeling better I am too.

I have made it my absolute mission to get up each morning, wash our linen, open the blinds and windows and let the sunshine and fresh air in. I have actually become a little OCD cleaning our house - bathrooms, kitchen and floors – I just want the virus out of here!

I truly believe in the power of a positive mindset. I have enjoyed the quietness, the rest, the sleep ins and the family time – weirdly a time we will remember forever (the good and the bad). I am enjoying my time to think and to develop plans about my future which is important, because both my businesses have come to a grinding halt because of this thing!

I am self employed. However, as always in life I know that when one door closes another opens – so I am excited about the new prospects in my life.

Friday 20th of March I received my first negative test to Coronavirus and I feel like the trust I have in my body got me through.

On Wednesday the 25th I received my second negative test, meaning that isolation was over. That said, I still have pneumonia.

It doesn’t feel real. I asked the nurse several times on the phone…so does that mean we can actual go outside on the street? Yes! Really? Today? Yes, she exclaims “this is the best part of my job” she says. I scream and anxiously wait for my family member to wake up.  We are free! High fives, hugs, disbelief.  We ring my the rest of my family, who are also officially finishing their isolation - they don’t believe it either! We are all so relieved. I shed a few tears. It takes all of us about 4 hours to go out.  Timidly we venture down to the shops - which was not for longand found that we wanted to return to the safety of our house.

The world had changed in two short weeks!

So many emotions. We venture out on the streets. We are both a little scared, unsure of what people will do if they see us? Will they scowl at us, will they run away? I tell my family member I don’t want to go into the shopping centre with him, but I do. There is nobody there….

Since we have been in isolation, so many of my friends have lost their jobs -  so I knew we were about to see a different world, but it was so different. It was quite shocking.

So many businesses are closed, the streets are empty, the shopping centre are so quiet that you can hear a pin drop.  A little joy for us today in this crazy world which has changed so much in the two weeks we have been away dealing with this thing.

 

 

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