Julianna Urbanowicz tested positive for Covid just before ‘Freedom Day’. She had to self-isolate with her parents at her home in Durham for 10-days, terrified that she would never get her smell and taste back.
She is all set to start university in Edinburgh in Autumn and is urging the North East to stay vigilant to protect each other and stop the spread of the virus. We caught up with the 18-year-old to chat about her experience.
“I actually couldn’t believe it when I caught Covid… me and my friends had been so careful with keeping our distance, wearing masks, and meeting outside, we also couldn’t wait to be vaccinated.
I thought if I was going to get it, it would be from a stranger in a shop or on the bus but I got it from a friend who thinks he got it at work [in a cafe]. And because I didn’t test positive until Monday evening, I was so scared I had passed it onto my mum who works with vulnerable kids and had been in school all day.
My symptoms were miserable; cough, headache, fever, unreal tiredness and of course, no taste or smell. For three days, I didn’t leave my bed. After a week, I did start to feel like myself again although I still felt very weak and couldn’t taste anything… it was quite terrifying.
I remember feeling so hungry but because the cough I had made me feel so sick and food had no taste, it didn’t seem normal to eat and chew so I stuck to soup and smoothies. Even now, two months later, chocolate doesn’t taste right.
The first thing I had to do after my isolation was pick up my GCSE certificates from school which is only a 10-minute walk away and I really struggled with it. I was so short of breath, it was horrible.
Both my parents were part of a trial which meant they were tested everyday for Covid, and thankfully they didn’t catch it. They are also both double jabbed which I think does make a huge difference.
I am so lucky that I have fully recovered - aside from not being able to taste chocolate - but others haven’t been as fortunate.
I think there is a sense of not personally worrying so much about Covid if you’re young and some people aren’t bothered about catching it but it really is awful. It takes no effort at all to wear a mask; me and my friends and family still wear masks as I really wouldn’t wish Covid on anyone.
The vaccination programme is clearly working, cases went up after ‘Freedom Day’ especially in young people as we weren’t vaccinated. Even among my group of friends it’s proven to work. The day me and my friend caught it we were with a couple of other friends who had been vaccinated and they were fine.
I also think the fact that my double jabbed parents didn't get it even though they were in my room helping me recover and keeping me entertained by watching movies with me in bed speaks volumes.
I have now had my first dose after having to wait a month after contracting Covid. I self test all the time too which is really important. If I am going to meet friends or go to an event then I always test myself - it’s much better to be safe.
If we maintain wearing masks and keeping our distance then we are reducing the risk of spreading Covid. Wearing a mask is not a huge struggle for most of us but getting Covid would be. I really hope that this year will be more normal… I want to have a true uni experience and not have to self-isolate.”