Suzanne D’Silva’s family made headlines when she, her husband and daughter were all infected by coronavirus on-board the doomed Diamond Princess.
Suzanne D’Silva’s family made headlines when she, her husband and daughter were all infected by coronavirus on-board the doomed Diamond Princess.

What it’s really like to have coronavirus

Melbourne mum Suzanne D'Silva, husband Dellone and daughter Bianca, 21, were struck down with dreaded coronavirus as a dream cruise holiday turned into a nightmare. Only son Brenton, 14, was spared. Now 48-year-old Mrs D'Silva, who has returned to Australia with her family, describes what it is like to battle the feared virus - and finally get the all-clear.

It started with a temperature and shivering.

I was very weak and the shortness of breath was bad.

My temperature was high, I had a bit of a sore throat but there was nothing out of the ordinary that felt any different to a normal cold or flu.

My daughter Bianca had been diagnosed with coronavirus four days earlier so I knew straight away that's what it could be.

But by the time I was diagnosed I was already starting to improve. I was still weak but I wasn't feeling particularly unwell.

My husband Dellone however was getting very sick. His oxygen levels were very low, his blood pressure was very high.

Guys in hazmat suits sprayed us and our bags as we got off the ship and drove us 2 ½ hours away to hospital.

The whole day was a terrifying experience.

We knew as long as we were in the hospital we couldn't be in better place to be treated.

I didn't think we could get any more sick than what we had already been. That was our hope.

My shortness of breath was quite distinctive.

Especially at night I was feeling very out of breath.

The doctor told me the virus had caused pneumonia patches on a lung scan.

But he said the patches weren't very big which was good and meant it was clearing.

The family all beat the coronavirus and are now back home in Australia. Picture: Rob Leeson.
The family all beat the coronavirus and are now back home in Australia. Picture: Rob Leeson.

I didn't feel very unwell so I knew at least I was on the mend.

We were on antibiotics but my husband was put on an experimental HIV drugs because he had a terrible cough, low oxygen and his pneumonia was more prominent.

The drug was something that they used on some people in China and that had worked.

When you are really sick it really does play on your mind.

You get worried when you hear the news and you see people are dying.

But all the people who were ill were people who had previous health conditions.

We were quite healthy so we were quite confident our bodies could fight it.

But you are scared because you don't know what you don't know. You are just hearing off the news and you're hoping it will be OK. Each individual person is going to have their own experience of it.

It helped that we were strong enough to actually fight it.

Each day you get a little bit better and you start to see symptoms go and your temperature starts to get back to normal levels. They also monitor your oxygen levels.

When we got the all-clear we were waiting all day. They call it a PCR test - two tests that they have to do 12 hours apart and they both have to be negative for you to get the all-clear. The tests included a throat and nasal swab.

We had the test on the Sunday then we had another test on Monday.

On Tuesday all day we were waiting for the doctor.

Finally the doctor came in late Tuesday night and when I saw his face, through the hazmat mask his eyes had a bit of a sparkle. I was like: 'Oh my God'. He said: 'Good news'. We were just over the moon.

It was just such a relief. Now I'm feeling fine. Dellone is still quite weak but we are home and all-clear.

Anyone who is older I really feel sorry for them.

We are very thankful and grateful to all our family and friends and our doctor for all the love, care and support.


5 myths about The Northern Star we want to bust

5 myths about The Northern Star we want to bust

OPINION: Our journos have been covering news that matters on the Northern Rivers...

Qld opening with NSW now in doubt

Qld opening with NSW now in doubt

Queensland border: Opening with NSW in November may be in doubt