Port Douglas couple Alteouise DeVaughn and Idris Alkamraikhi have recounted their experience after both tested positive for COVID-19 after a trip to the USA. Picture: GIZELLE GHIDELLA
Port Douglas couple Alteouise DeVaughn and Idris Alkamraikhi have recounted their experience after both tested positive for COVID-19 after a trip to the USA. Picture: GIZELLE GHIDELLA

Couple tells of 'nightmare' after contracting COVID-19

A PORT Douglas couple have spoken of their horror ordeal from New York to the Far North while contracting COVID-19.

Prominent musician Alteouise DeVaughn, 63, and her husband Idris Alkamraikhi, 67, have spent more than two months in a coronavirus 'nightmare' culminating in a second positive test for the former in Mossman last week.

They spent 23 days isolated from each other and the outside world in an 'infectious disease area' of a Sydney hotel after testing positive to the virus upon returning from the USA on April 2.

Both were cleared by medical experts to return to Port Douglas on Anzac Day and told a retest was unnecessary.

But Ms DeVaughn, seeking her own peace of mind, was tested at the Mossman Hospital on May 6 which again returned a positive result for coronavirus.

"Before I was released from Sydney I wanted to be retested but they said if you don't show symptoms for 72 hours, you're clear," she said.

"But my question was always how can I be sure then if I'm positive or negative?

"The confusion it has created has been a nightmare. Look at all the places I've been to since then."

 

 

Although not infectious, as confirmed by the Cairns Hinterland Hospital and Health Service to the Cairns Post on May 10, she did her grocery shopping in Port Douglas and attended a leisure shop before the second diagnosis, sparking a backlash from some in the community culminating in a 'knock on the door' from the police.

"It's turns out I wasn't infectious, but how is the community to know that when I'm still coming up testing positive?" she said.

"I put a message on Facebook and there were people worried that I had put them at risk. That hurt me because I would never knowingly do that.

"When I saw my GP they told me even though I'm still testing positive, I can't pass it on.

"I'm very sensitive and it has been an embarrassing experience."

 

The Port Douglas couple were ushered on to buses at the Sydney International Aiport to begin a two-week isolation in a city hotel after arriving from San Francisco. AAP Image
The Port Douglas couple were ushered on to buses at the Sydney International Aiport to begin a two-week isolation in a city hotel after arriving from San Francisco. AAP Image

 

What started as a dream trip to New York to watch her son's opera debut at the Metropolitan Theatre quickly turned into a nightmare as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the city.

After two weeks staying in her daughter's New Jersey apartment, Ms DeVaughn saw a doctor on March 26 after feeling the onset of a sinus infection.

The couple then flew to LA where her symptoms worsened before scrambling to catch a flight back to Australia ahead of the international travel ban deadline.

 

 

"Our flight out of LA was cancelled so we used my brothers frequent flyer points to get to San Francisco to fly to Sydney," she recalled.

"I was scared on the plane thinking maybe I had the virus. It felt like my head was going to explode.

"When I got to Sydney I had a fever of 38 degrees."

Both tested positive for COVID-19 and were moved to a high security floor of a Newtown hotel.

For the next 23 days the only time Mr Alkamraikhi saw his wife was from across the hall when both were getting daily medical checks.

 

The Mossman Hospital where Alteouise DeVaughn was tested for a second time for COVID-19 on May 6, which returned a positive result. Picture: GIZELLE GHIDELLA
The Mossman Hospital where Alteouise DeVaughn was tested for a second time for COVID-19 on May 6, which returned a positive result. Picture: GIZELLE GHIDELLA

 

"We could see each other's faces briefly during that time, otherwise it was just Facetime from our rooms," he said.

Ms DeVaughn recalls slipping into a deep depression.

"I had a wave of fear. My heart and mind started racing and I thought wow, I guess this is it. I'm going to die," she said.

"I was waiting for the serious symptoms to kick in because I have a number of underlying health problems and I know people in the states who had died, but after a couple of days my fever broke and I was fine.

"But mentally, I was a mess."

 

Personnel from the Australian Defence Force at Sydney International Airport help with international passenger luggage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. IMAGE: Bianca De Marchi.
Personnel from the Australian Defence Force at Sydney International Airport help with international passenger luggage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. IMAGE: Bianca De Marchi.

 

The talented opera and music teacher, who is heavily involved in theatre groups in Port Douglas and Cairns, was medically cleared by doctors today. She said she'd be 'laying low' regardless.

"I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me. I'm here, but I haven't found my way yet," she said.

"Three weeks ago I was thinking, if I ever get home, I'm going to have to get ready to die.

"There is still no music inside of me and I can't bring myself to sing.

"But I wanted to tell my story to clear the air and there might be other people in my situation and not even know it."



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