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Alexandrew—Registered nurse
COVID ward
Metropolitan Melbourne

I vividly remember working as a casual agency nurse mid-2020. I was deployed to help staff looking after elderly patients with COVID.

A few days after working, I got the symptoms and I sensed that I was going to be the next victim. It started with an itchy throat and progressed to a sore throat. I did the PCR test at one of the testing sites and two days later I got the call from a GP who delivered the sad news: I had tested positive and now had to isolate for two weeks. I felt so afraid when I heard the news—I felt like I was going to die.

The first thing I did was inform my housemates because I lived in a share house. Everyone at home got the PCR test done and, luckily, they tested negative. I then asked the Department of Health and Human Services for hotel accommodation to protect my housemates. This was approved a few days after my request.

While at the hotel, I couldn’t stop thinking about my family and friends. ‘What if this is my last day and I won’t be able to wake up the next morning?’ And my career. ‘Should I continue nursing? Is it worth it?’

And then the most important realisation came: I was willing to give up everything—my valuable possessions, my money, everything—to continue with this life if I made it through. There was more to life, there were tons of things to do—like explore the world and try different foods and be with our wonderful family and friends.

After fourteen days, I got cleared by the department to exit isolation and resume a normal life. The moment I got out of my hotel, I felt like a prisoner who had been released—inhaling that gush of wind outside the door was priceless!

Unfortunately for me, that was the beginning of a fiasco. When I got home, my landlord, who also lived in the same share house, had changed his demeanour. He seemed to be blaming me for having COVID and was worried that I might spread it again. I couldn’t blame him for being scared and I did understand that response, but I was scared too. If I was kicked out of the house, where would I stay next?

Then it happened. I got kicked out of my place and I was so scared because many landlords had the same sentiment towards people who tested positive to COVID. Luckily, I have wonderful friends who helped me find other accommodation.

It was a wild ride for me and for many others. It was common for people to get booted out of their accommodation during this time because of a growing fear about the virus. A lot of relationships became sour because people were afraid.

I would like to say sorry and offer my sincere condolences to everyone who lost their loved ones in this very unfortunate pandemic. Till the next challenges we face, stay strong and resilient.