IN ISOLATION: Irene Bridgeman (left) and Leonie Cusack took precautions on their return from their overseas cruise.
IN ISOLATION: Irene Bridgeman (left) and Leonie Cusack took precautions on their return from their overseas cruise.

'I was sick to my stomach': What it's like having COVID-19

A TOOWOOMBA woman tested positive for coronavirus after displaying an unusual set of symptoms on her return from an overseas cruise.

Irene Bridgeman and friend Leonie Cusack had been on the SS Rotterdam for two days when their voyage was cut short at a port in Mexico.

Travelling to Brisbane through Los Angeles, they returned to Toowoomba on March 18 and went into mandatory isolation together at Ms Bridgeman's home.

Five days after their return, Ms Bridgeman began to feel unwell.

"I was feeling sick to my stomach, I couldn't look at food at all," Ms Bridgeman said.

"I had a cough but I suffer from asthma, so I didn't take too much notice of it because I'm used to it.

"I wasn't feeling breathless, and I didn't have a fever."

Irene Bridgeman (left) and Leonie Cusack remain in isolation in Toowoomba after returning from a Panama Canal cruise a fortnight ago.
Irene Bridgeman (left) and Leonie Cusack remain in isolation in Toowoomba after returning from a Panama Canal cruise a fortnight ago.

During a phone call, her GP advised she get tested for the virus.

She and Ms Cusack drove to the Baillie Henderson testing centre on Friday.

"The next day they rang to tell me I had tested positive," she said.

"I was very surprised - I thought they might have made a mistake because I didn't have any of the symptoms they were talking about.

"However, they told me it differs for different people."

As her symptoms were mild, the 79-year-old was advised to stay at home.

"The doctor at the hospital rings regularly, he said I was at the wrong end of the age spectrum, and I also have an asthmatic chest - both things aren't good with this disease," she said.

"I was told to rest and drink as much fluid as possible, particularly warm drinks.

"They said normally the sickness lasts for a bit over a week, then you eventually get better - I think I'm at the other side of it now."

She said she was taking each day as it came, but had seen an improvement in her condition since Saturday.

Ms Cusack tested negative for the virus and the women continue to exercise caution in the home.

"We've been very careful with using wipes on doorknobs and avoiding anything that might carry germs," Ms Bridgeman said.

"We're trying to keep her as safe as possible and so far it has worked well."

Secretary of the University of the Third Age Toowoomba, Ms Bridgeman has had plenty of messages of support and her family and friends are keeping the pair stocked with groceries.

"There's no point being upset about it, but you have to remain vigilant especially with hand washing," she said.

"If you're feeling unwell, get tested and the main thing is to keep up the cleanliness."

Both women will remain in isolation until they are retested.



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