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A Halifax woman battling COVID-19 in hospital and her warning for others

From her hospital bed in a Halifax COVID-19 unit, Danica Pettipas has a message for anyone who still thinks the pandemic is a hoax.

The previously healthy woman said her ordeal started with a dry cough that led to the eventual loss of taste and smell.

The 30-year-old said she began to notice some of the coronavirus symptoms last Sunday. Gradually over the next five days, her symptoms worsened to include a high fever difficulty breathing.

She thought she might die and made a call to 9-1-1.

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COVID-19: Testing backlog means Nova Scotia case count could be much higher

For the past week, the Dartmouth woman has been fighting for her life in the Halifax Infirmary COVID-19 unit.

Now that her condition has stabilized, she’s sharing her story, all alone from her hospital bed, as a warning to others to take the virus seriously.

“Death was a real scare for me,” said Pettipas.

“I told my parents the other night, that if I pass to please spread my ashes at the beach in the valley.”

Pettipas and her husband Chris live in a one-bedroom apartment in Dartmouth. She feared her husband would get the disease. He’s had two tests come back negative but remains in quarantine in their apartment.

“It was scary because I didn’t know if I was going to come home, or if I was ever going to see my husband again,” said Pettipas.

Click to play video: Halifax region in “almost full lockdown” as COVID-19 cases skyrocket

Pettipas works in retail and doesn’t know where she picked up the virus. She said none of her co-workers have tested positive for COVID-19 either, which she’s thankful for.

She wants to share her COVID-19 story to challenge the conspiracy theorist who say the virus is a “government hoax” and as a warning to others who may be flouting the rules and not following health protocols.

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She shared a post on Facebook on Saturday responding in disgust to a group of people celebrating being ticketed for attending a house party.

“People think they are invincible and they can’t get it, but I’m sorry to say you can and this is real,” said Pettipas. “I’m a 30-year-old woman, healthy as can be with no medical conditions minus the asthma.

“If I can get it, anyone can get it.”

As of Friday, there were 22 patients in hospital in Nova Scotia, with five more patients in the ICU, It is the highest number of patients in hospital at one time with COVID-19, says Nova Scotia Health spokesperson Brendan Elliott.

Read more:
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“At the height of admissions in the first wave there were 14 or 15 admissions to hospital,” said Elliott. “In the second wave, only four to five admissions at any one time.

“That puts us at a 47 per cent increase in active admissions compared to the first wave and a 340 per cent increase compared to Wave 2.”

Click to play video: Backlog won’t change ‘epidemiological picture’ for the province with majority of backlogged tests in Halifax-area: Dr. Strang

Based on the current caseload and future projections, Nova Scotia Health anticipates hospitalizations will go up even further.

Extensive planning continues to be undertaken to accommodate the expected increase in admissions to both COVID-19 inpatient units and critical care says, Elliott.

Nova Scotia Health is diverting resources from other areas to focus on front-line COVID care.

“We are ensuring that we are building the inpatient capacity to deal with what we know will be more patients admitted to hospital in the next couple of weeks and within our ICUs,” said Dr. Brendan Carr, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Health.

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On Monday Pettipas said she was released from the COVID Unit and transitioned to a recovery hotel, but there her condition worsened and she was moved back to the Halifax Infirmary, where she says she’s now feeling better but has no appetite and is feeling the effects of isolation.

“I just have to take it one day at a time and pray that I come out of here one of these days.”

Nova Scotia reported 67 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total active cases to 589, but it’s anticipated the actual case count is much worse than that, as the Nova Scotia Health Authority lab is experiencing a backlog in testing.

Premier Iain Rankin said there are roughly 45,000 tests are waiting to be processed.

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