The 34-year-old creator and star of Girls gave a detailed account Friday, July 31, on Instagram of what she said she experienced after testing positive for the coronavirus in mid-March, just as much of the nation was shutting down because of the pandemic.
“It started with achy joints which I was unable to distinguish from my usual diagnoses so I didn’t freak out,” Dunham writes, “but the pain was soon joined by an impossible, crushing fatigue. Then a fever of 102. Suddenly my body simply… revolted.”
She went into isolation and felt severe symptoms for three weeks, she said.
Dunham said she was treated by a doctor in her home and she did not have to be hospitalised, and said she knows she is lucky to have exceptional health care and flexible work.
She tested negative after a month and was able to see people in her inner circle again, but said she is having lingering problems.
Dunham is a native New Yorker, but did not say where she was when she contracted the disease and went into isolation. She was the lead writer and star of the HBO series Girls from 2012 to 2017 and is working on a film adaptation of the young adult novel, Catherine, Called Birdy.
Dunham said she was reluctant to tell her story, but felt compelled to after seeing the carelessness with which so many are treating social distancing and mask-wearing.
“When you take the appropriate measures to protect yourself and your neighbours,” she writes, “you save them a world of pain.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Coronavirus: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of someone infected with coronavirus?
Coronavirus patients may experience flu like symptoms such as a fever, cough, runny nose, or shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress.
What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?
The symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are very similar, as they both can cause fever and respiratory issues.
Both infections are also transmitted the same way, via coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus.
The speed of transmission and the severity of the infection are the key differences between COVID-19 and the flu.
The time from infection to the appearance of symptoms is typically shorter with the flu. However, there are higher proportions of severe and critical COVID-19 infections.
How can I protect myself and my family?
The World Health Organisation and NSW Health both recommend basic hygiene practices as the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus.
Good hygiene includes:
- Clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser;
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or your elbow;
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms;
- Apply safe food practices; and
- Stay home if you are sick.