A lung specialist has described just what it’s like to get COVID-19 so that people stop dying at home and start getting vaccinated.

Dr Lucy Morgan, who works across Concord and Nepean Hospitals, gave us the run-down of what symptoms to look out for and how to respond at the NSW daily coronavirus presser on Wednesday morning.

It comes after the state recorded 919 cases overnight. There were also two deaths, including a woman in her 30s who died at home.

“My hope is when you can understand a little bit more about how it feels to get COVID-19, we might transfer some of our anxieties about the vaccine to feeling a bit more anxious about the illness and what we can do constructively to reduce our chance of catching it,” Dr Morgan said.

She started off by explaining what most of us know by now: that many early COVID-19 symptoms are pretty mild and flu-like.

The problem that’s now happening is that people aren’t getting medical help when their symptoms become more serious.

“But some people become breathless and dizzy, and these other sorts of symptoms that need urgent medical assistance,” Dr Morgan said.

“If you have COVID-19, and you feel breathless, you have trouble reading, and you are feeling dizzy, you need to call an ambulance. An ambulance is free, your medical care will be free, there will be people who can care for you even if English is not your first language.”

It’s worth noting here that ambulances are usually only ‘free’ if you have private health insurance, however health authorities are now actually waiving ambulance fees in cases of COVID-19. This wasn’t really advertised but it’s good to know.

Here’s what to really look out for if you do – god forbid – end up catching the virus.

“Some symptoms of COVID-19 that are affecting many of the patients I’ve been caring for in the last few weeks include a really severe headache – not just a little bit of a headache but a really severe migraine like headache that makes you sensitive to light – and a stiff neck that takes more than just Panadol to relieve it. It’s really awful,” Dr Morgan said.

“Many of my patients have a terrible cough, the sort of cough that leaves you breathless and they can’t move or speak without the cough becoming really terrible.

“Lots of patients have diarrhoea. Lots of patients have nausea. They just can’t eat or drink anything. And people feel so overwhelmingly fatigued, or they can do is lie on the bed.

“Some of these patients become increasingly breathless. Initially, just breathless from walking quickly or making the bed, but as time goes by, they become breathless walking or even talking.”

This is basically the point where COVID symptoms cross over from being flu-like to being life-threatening.

“If anybody is at home with symptoms this severe, they need to call an ambulance,” Dr Morgan stressed.

“Don’t ring up and make a GP appointment, call an ambulance. Because these other sorts of symptoms and signs that tell me that the COVID-19 illness is progressing, and progressing quickly.”

Just like pretty much every other healthcare worker who’s made a cameo at the daily pressers to share a bit about their experience, Dr Morgan made it abundantly clear that this current outbreak of the Delta strain is affecting young people more severely than ever before.

“One of the things that I noticed in my most recent days in the hospital was that the heartbreaking stories of patients who were very, very young,” she said.

“I’ve been looking after patients in their 20s, in their 30s and in their 40s. But the good news in all of this is that this does not have to be you.

“You could get a vaccine today and reduce your risk of getting severe respiratory illness from COVID-19 and reduce your chances of ending up in hospital. Two doses of COVID-19 vaccination will be your suit of armour.”

All adult Aussies (yep, even if those of us under 40) are currently able to get the safe and effective AstraZeneca vaccine through a GP. Click here to see which clinics are offering it, and talk to a doctor to see if it’s right for you.

Alternatively, you can triple-check to see if you’re eligible for the Pfizer vaccine here.

The best vaccine is the first one you can get, and that’ll be our ticket out of this mess.

Image: Nine