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Man who's NZ's 44th person confirmed with coronavirus tells his story

This is the story of New Zealand’s 44th Covid-19 coronavirus patient. He wishes to remain anonymous, and will be referred to as "Patient #44'".

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The Wellington man talks to 1 NEWS about testing positive for the virus. Source: 1 NEWS

By Abbey Wakefield

Patient #44, a Wellington man in his 50s, attended a work conference in the US earlier this month.

After the long-haul flight back from San Francisco he felt a bit tired, but he put it down to the usual feeling of jetlag.

"I didn't have any symptoms that indicated to me that this might be Covid-19," he told 1 NEWS.

Still feeling fine three-days-later, he went for a weekend away to Auckland with his wife, and then he travelled to Hamilton on a work trip, five days after that.

It wasn’t until March 16, about 11 days after he returned from the US that his first symptom appeared - a headache for several days.

"I thought, I just want to get this checked."

He called Healthline but because he didn’t have a fever, he wasn’t tested.

Patient #44 was then notified of the 40,000 people that attended the same conference earlier in March, two Americans had tested positive for Covid-19.

"It wasn’t until they changed the guidance and excluded a fever as being a requirement that they decided to test me," he said.

On March 18 he got tested.

"I waited in the car, they came out dressed in their PPE (personal protective equipment) and took me into portable cabin that was set aside for Covid-19 testing, so I didn't go inside the medical centre at all," Patient #44 said.

He described the testing process as harsh.

"It was a swab down the throat and then up the nose, it was extremely uncomfortable, it actually felt so far down the throat."

Two-days-later, he was told he had tested positive for Covid-19, becoming Patient #44.

His symptoms included long headaches, a runny nose for 18 hours and a dry cough. Paracetamol was the medication he used for managing the pain.

"You know how sometimes you get a bit of a niggly throat for three or four days. I really hadn’t had anything worse than that, so I’ve been very lucky," he said.

As close contacts, his wife later became patient #101.

His wife lost her sense of taste and smell.

"She still has her appetite, but it meant we got to have a hotter than usual curry," Patient #44 said.

They have both been quarantined at home and are each feeling better by the day.

"Mostly in New Zealand from what I'm hearing the symptoms are very mild.

"Crikey, we've just got to stay at home, pay attention and do what we've got to do," he said.

Patient #44 also praised the work of health workers.

"They are doing an admirable job."