A COVID-19 survivor has compared battling the virus to ‘drowning’ in a promotional video imploring Victorians to take the second wave of infections seriously.
The Victorian government is rolling out the confronting advertisements to make the invisible experiences of coronavirus patients ‘real’ to the rest of the community.
In one of the videos, middle-aged man Michael said the virus felt ‘like drowning’ as he tried to gasp for air.
‘I had coughing fits that go for one to two minutes. I got so bad I had to call an ambulance,’ he said.
Michael was put in an induced coma.
‘The doctor’s thought I was going to die,’ he said.
Michael’s wife also contracted coronavirus and she likely passed it on to his mother-in-law, who later died.
‘While I was asleep, I didn’t know my wife got sick. Her mum who got corona, most likely from her, and then passed away,’ he said.
‘COVID is real. It is very real.’
Victoria reported another 357 COVID-19 infections and five deaths on Saturday.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton hopes the advertising will be a ‘hook’ for Victorians ‘to make it real’.
‘This is an invisible enemy, in lots of ways,’ he said on Saturday.
‘And when we just talk about numbers, when we talk about reproduction numbers, and transmissibility, but doesn’t bring it home in a way that understanding what the genuine consequences are for people brings home.
‘It is an unfolding tragedy that is hard to get your head around.’
Professor Sutton said the advertising can help people can understand what the pandemic means at an ‘individual level’ and the ramifications for the community if it’s not controlled.
‘If people don’t understand the reality of that, from individuals, then we are in trouble,’ he said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said just 37 coronavirus cases on Saturday came from known outbreaks, while another 320 infections have unknown sources.
‘I’m very sad to have to report a further five Victorians have passed away, bringing the total to 61,’ Mr Andrews said.
Four women each aged in their 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s have died as well as a man in his 90s.
‘We send our condolences and our best wishes to each of those families, this will be a very difficult and challenging time for them,’ Mr Andrews said.
It comes after Victoria recorded its deadliest day since the pandemic began on Friday, with seven deaths.
The national death toll has now risen to 145 and Victoria has a total of 3,995 active coronavirus cases.
Mr Andrews also revealed that 229 Victorians were in hospital and 42 of those are in intensive care.
At least 536 active coronavirus cases have emerged from aged care settings across 38 different homes.
Infections are evenly split between staff and residents and at least 313 health workers are infected with the virus.
Mr Andrews said he was working with the federal government to tackle the virus and explained aged care homes posed a ‘really challenging setting’.
‘We see that both in terms of the number of cases and also the number of people who are by the very nature of these settings frail and aged,’ he said.
‘It is a very, very challenging environment and I want to send my support and assurance to all families and staff, all of those involved in aged care, that many different steps have been taken, processes have been put in place.’
The premier also condemned people who were ‘making the wrong choices’, after a series of viral videos showed Victorians ignoring lockdown restrictions.
‘They are selfish choices… These rules will be in place longer if people continue to behave that way,’ he said.
‘I am not really fussed what reason motivates you to do the right thing, you have just got to do the right thing.’
Mr Andrews encouraged Victorians to abide by the mandatory rule to cover their faces whenever they were outdoors.
‘Masks are effectively our stage four,’ he said.
‘If they are worn by everybody, we may not need to go further. We can’t rule out going further with rule changes, but it’s a big game changer.’