A COVID-19 survivor has warned he still isn't 100 per cent recovered more than five months after contracting the disease.
Richard Evans, 47, tested positive to the coronavirus after returning from the US in March.
He suffered from symptoms like fever, fatigue, and coughing, but eventually got better, and returned negative tests.
An otherwise healthy man from Smeaton, he said the effects have never truly left - he still feels random pains, shortness of breath, and occasional strong headaches.
His warning comes on Australia's deadliest day of the pandemic, with 25 deaths recorded across Victoria.
Mr Evans' case is also a harrowing warning for those who recover, especially when one survey released last week showed as many as a third of Australians still think it is no worse than the flu.
The danger of complacency is also evident in Victorian Department of Health data which shows almost one third of Victorians with the virus are aged between 20 and 34 years old.
Another positive case was confirmed in Ballarat on Monday, one of 282 new cases across the state.
Mr Evans said people needed to know how bad the effects can be - getting through the fevers and pain in March was just the beginning.
"It's been pretty much five months for me now, and I certainly haven't recovered to what I was beforehand," he said.
"Whether I will or not, that's a good question, it's hard to know."
While he's had various x-rays, and a lung capacity test, with many doctors and specialists closed he's been waiting for more conclusive answers.
"So far, it just hasn't got any better," he said.
"I've been spitting out mucus all the time, and been on various inhalers.
"There's spot pains, like in the ribs, or you'll get something that's never painful enough to stop you doing things but you notice it, it might last for five or 10 minutes, then a few hours later it comes back in the same place.
"I don't know if I can say I've recovered, I personally wouldn't."
A few months ago, before restrictions came back in regional areas, he tried to take his family to Torquay.
"We drove out of Ballarat, within a couple of minutes I felt sweaty, and hot, and weird," he said.
"It was from the upper stomach right through to the head, it got to the point where it felt like I had a band around my head, it was a bizarre feeling.
"I said to the kids, 'I'm going to have to stop, I don't feel good enough to drive' - we got to about Meredith, and then it went away."
The mental effect is also debilitating - Mr Evans said going for a run is still daunting.
"You sort of wake up every day now thinking 'what's going to happen?'" he said.
"It dents your confidence to go and do anything, especially physical things, that's what got me the most.
"I'm almost worried to (go for a run), because I feel I'm doing damage to my lungs, or I've already done damage and it might get worse.
"I've never really had any sickness or illness in my life, luckily, and it makes me worry, I'm thinking about it all the time."
Doctors don't yet know enough about the disease the virus causes to be certain about all long-term effects - some people have reported other symptoms, or none at all, after they tested negative.
According to The Conversation, doctors are concerned about lung issues, blood clots, and issues in other organs like the heart and kidneys, as well as massive mental health effects and potentially chronic fatigue.
Several patients are affected by pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, and may experience scarring in the lungs.
Mr Evans said he would be keen to help out in future research studies to help better understand how it works.
"From my experience, and seeing what it's done to people, if there's anything I can do to help, I'm certainly more than willing to do anything I could," he said.
He added people in regional communities cannot get complacent about the virus.
"From what I see, there's a lot more people out now than in the lockdown the first time - I think people are a bit fatigued by it all," he said.
"Do the right thing, and stay out of the way of other people, that's the best advice."
Remember to always maintain good hand hygiene, wear a mask when in public, and keep a 1.5 metre distance from others at all times.
Right now there are only four reasons to leave your home in Ballarat during stage three restrictions: care and caregiving, local exercise, shopping for necessary items, and for work or study if you are unable to do so from home.
Victoria Police are enforcing restrictions, and penalties apply.
Anyone with the slightest symptoms is urged to get a test immediately, and must self-isolate until results come back - book online at bchc.org.au or phone 4311 1571 to make an appointment.
For more information, visit the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website, or phone the hotline on 1800 675 398 for advice if you are displaying symptoms.
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