Coast couple’s swine flu scare

A man and a woman seen in facemasks and gloves at a Coolum medical practice last week have tested negative for swine flu.

The Marcoola couple, who do not wish to be named, said they had been diagnosed with “standard Type A influenza”.

“It was the worst flu we’ve ever had,” the woman said.

“It may not have been swine flu but it was worse.

“But, of course, it doesn’t have quite the same dramatic impact on people’s perceptions.”

She said the staff at the Coolum 7 Day Medical Centre had been very helpful, though they were disappointed they had to wait outside in the cold, rainy weather for about 20 minutes.

“This was our only frustration with the procedure because we were, after all, feeling quite ill and would have appreciated being given at least a chair to sit on while waiting outside,” she said.

“This also made it obvious to the patients coming and going that something ‘unusual’ was going on.”

The couple had returned home on Wednesday, May 20 from a cruise on the Coral Princess, which left Los Angeles on April 26.

The original itinerary had included five ports in Mexico but, as word of the new swine flu filtered through, all Mexican ports were excluded from the trip.

“We first heard of the new flu virus the day before flying out of Australia,” she said.

“Wherever we went on the ship, and especially in all eating areas, we were provided with antibacterial gel to wash our hands,” the woman said.

“Large posters in every toilet facility explained exactly how to go about washing our hands and we were encouraged to use our own private toilet facilities whenever possible.

“We also learned that the optimum length of time to spend on hand washing is the time it takes for you to sing the song Happy Birthday.”

Over the next three weeks, the ship visited ports in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Guatemala as well as the Panama Canal and Panama City.

Later, swine flu cases were reported in those countries as well.

The couple felt “100 per cent fit and healthy” when they returned to Australia on the Wednesday but made the decision to quarantine themselves for 48 hours.

“We awoke on Thursday with a few sniffles but that’s normal when you’ve spent 27 hours in transit, in and out of air-conditioning,” the woman said.

“On Friday my husband’s cold became worse and over the weekend it became apparent he was suffering from flu-like symptoms.”

By Monday, the woman was suffering from the same symptoms.

They arrived at the Coolum doctors’ surgery at the appointed time last Tuesday and were taken around the back where they were eventually greeted by a doctor dressed in disposable gown and face mask.

Earlier this week, the women said she and her husband were still in self-imposed quarantine.

“But we’re now finally on the mend.”

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