A woman who has been terribly ill with Covid for more than a month believes she's been struck down with Delta and Omicron and is warning others not to become complacent.
Along with the well-reported side effects of high fever, brain fog and loss of taste, Auckland woman Clare Jennings said she has had "awful and unusual" symptoms such as a burning smell in her nose, hair loss in chunks and debilitating insomnia.
She has battled ongoing nausea, has lost 8kg and is constantly exhausted.
"It has been a hell of a ride and I want to share my experience because it is definitely not just a cold, which is what I keep hearing," Jennings said.
"When I first got sick it was a really bad flu with really high temps, I was shaking to walk anywhere and I had to hold on to things, I couldn't really stand up.
"Since then, I have hardly eaten, I have lost 8kg. My hair has fallen out and I have lost all sense of smell, apart from sometimes I get a smell of burning and sometimes a rotten rubbish-like smell."
Brain fog and memory loss had also been issues, with Jennings struggling to remember things she had done in the past few weeks.
This week a PCR test with her doctor showed Jennings had the Delta variant of the illness but she believes she has also had Omicron. She has just had another PCR test and is awaiting results to confirm.
Blood tests showed low iron levels and she has since had an iron infusion.
Yesterday she was told that a historic bout of glandular fever may explain why she has suffered so long.
Jennings was now on antibiotics and was undergoing further tests.
Clare Jennings has been sick for 38 days and just tested positive for Delta. She is awaiting a PCR test to see if she has also been infected with Omicron. Photo / Greg Bowker
The single mum of a teenage son tested positive for Covid at the start of last month after feeling like she was coming down with a cold.
Her son had been away at a rowing regatta for six days. Before he returned Jennings had started to feel slightly better and a RAT before he got home showed only a very slight positive line.
Both are doubled vaccinated and Jennings has had her booster.
Three days after her son's return, he tested positive, as did many of the rowers staying at the same hotel.
Three days after her son's positive test, Jennings started experiencing the same symptoms as him and she then returned a strong positive test.
"Just before he got back, I was starting to feel a little better and I did a RAT and the line was so light I could hardly see it, then days after he got back, I tested again and it was immediately bright red."
Because she experienced two completely different sets of symptoms and was starting to feel better before her son got home, Jennings believes she had two different variants.
But she said her concerns were dismissed by Healthline.
"I explained what had happened to the person from Healthline and they said 'Covid doesn't work like that, it's not possible'," Jennings said.
The Herald on Sunday contacted the Ministry of Health and a spokesperson said co-infection or reinfection was unlikely although cases had been documented overseas.
"RATs may return varying results over the course of one episode of a Covid-19 infection," the spokesperson said.
"Potential co-infection or reinfection usually requires no change in management, but a healthcare provider would be able to assess this."
The Ministry of Health said persistent symptoms have been seen in some people and in some cases take weeks and even months to resolve.
A Herald article from February revealed Delta was still holding steady in New Zealand despite most people believing Omicron had stamped it out.
Data from the ESR showed up to 7 per cent of cases being genomically sequenced in New Zealand were Delta, which was still making up the majority of sequenced hospital cases.
Jennings wasn't surprised to hear Delta was still in the community.
"My results show Delta is still out there. This is the sickest I have ever been and I now know how debilitating it is."
Jennings was concerned about the recent relaxing of mask mandates especially in schools as students headed back to class.
Since being sick she had heard from others who had struggled. Some had severe symptoms that were still present after six weeks.
"I wanted to share my story because we are constantly hearing stories about how it is mild. I just don't want people becoming complacent and thinking it is not a big deal to get Covid."
- by Kirsty Wynn, NZ Herald