Alone and battling to breathe, Meg* tried to tune into the 1pm Covid update from her bed in the isolated Ward 16 of Whangārei Hospital.
The announcer's voice cut through the fevered-induced fog as it informed her she was still the only Northland Covid-19 case admitted.
Watching the TV press conference was Meg's only source into what was swiftly swirling around her sterile prison in the outside world as the virus that had struck the nation, and her, the week prior, rendered her isolated in the ward and fearing her life.
"I relied on that press conference to find out information myself," says the 54-year-old Whangārei woman, who has asked to remain anonymous.
"It was a strange feeling knowing I was the person (referred to in the conferences)."
Meg contracted Covid-19 in March 2020 after she had been in the UK for her 97-year-old grandmother's funeral. She returned on an Emirates NZ flight – the last one from the UK before travel was shut down - later finding out she had travelled with seven Covid-19 positive people.
"If I didn't get it in the UK, I got it off the flight. I remember being at the airport in the UK and the girl serving me was crying. I asked her if she was okay. She replied: 'Once your flight goes, I've got no job.' Looking around, I could see that most of the staff were crying and very emotional because they'd just been told they had lost their jobs, so all the remaining food was being distributed amongst the people."
Meg remembers being "herded like sheep" through Dubai Airport while transferring between flights and "it was utter chaos. It was a strange time".
She returned home on Saturday March 21 and began experiencing symptoms the next day, initially putting it down to jet lag, but had a test at Toll Stadium on the Monday.
Meanwhile, she self-isolated away from her family in the caravan they were living in while building their family home, with Meg's husband having to move into their unfinished house. The situation wasn't ideal given they had to share one bathroom in an adjacent building.
"Because we were sharing the one toilet, I had been doing a lot of disinfecting and bleaching and my husband had commented on the overwhelming smell of bleach which was when I realised I couldn't smell anything so that had set off alarm bells for me," Meg recalls.
Then on Wednesday she received a phone call informing her of a positive result with the words: "Congratulations, you're number three to test positive in Northland". By this time she was feeling extremely unwell and struggling to breathe.
It was all downhill from there. Meg's daughter drove her to the hospital emergency doors where she was met by staff dressed in PPE gear and whisked off in a wheelchair.
"It was so overwhelming and scary," she recalls.
"I had a whole Covid team designated to me and I had no idea what was going on. I was struggling to breathe – it felt like there was a big concrete slab on my chest – I had no smell and couldn't taste anything and was very lethargic."
Meg spent a week in hospital as the only patient in Ward 16 and, during this time, not only was she unable to see her family, her phone had to be monitored, due to Facebook threats.
"I had been getting threats on my phone telling me to f*** off and go back to England and I was also being hounded by people asking, 'Is it you? Is it you?'. It was scary. It's not nice to see or hear, especially when I actually live here in New Zealand.
"I remember one day laying there on my hospital bed feeling really unwell and on oxygen to help with my breathing and thinking, actually, this isn't good."
Meg was already a veteran to hospital stays, having been diagnosed with cancer in 2013, but not having family support this time, was difficult.
Eventually Meg began to turn a corner in hospital and was transferred to a local motel where she spent the next month.
"The doctor had to whisk me out the back door in her own personal car because we had been informed that the press was waiting out the front (of the hospital)," Meg remembers.
She was supplied with several day's food from the hospital because her own family were still isolating at home, though she lacked appetite and the energy to cook.
By then Meg had her phone back and was able to talk to her family, and was receiving daily calls from a designated hospital Covid team nurse and had the TV for company. Other than this, she didn't see anybody's face as all her dealings had been behind PPE gear.
Once her family's two-week isolation was up, her daughter drove to the motel and would stand at a safe distance while leaving food outside for her mother.
Overall, Meg didn't see her family for six weeks and, after returning a negative test, describes the day her husband came to pick her up as "awful".
"It was awful because I was scared to go near him. I'm not a crier at all but the psychological effect was immense. I was scared to go near people."
And it was reciprocated. Even now, Meg, one of 28 Northlanders to contract Covid-19, experiences the stigma.
"I was constantly being told the press was outside wanting a story and, for a long time, I've been too scared to speak because I always get the same reaction. Even now, people step back and say, 'Oh no, I've never known anybody who's had Covid'."
Her Long-Covid effects include only the occasional fleeting sense of smell or taste – although her senses signal whether something is spicy - chest problems and fatigue.
"Even now, when I get screened and I tell (health officials) I have no sense of smell or taste and they want to know why, I tell them I've had Covid and they don't know how to react or they sometimes step back. I could lie but I'm truthful and I do feel discriminated against."
Meg, an essential worker, was quick to get both vaccinations and has this message to those unsure: "I'd say, let me assure you, (the virus is) 100 per cent real and the effects can be catastrophic and it's true that people can die from it - healthy people, so I can say to them that it's important to have the vaccine because it can save lives. There is stuff going on out there (about the vaccine) that just isn't true."
In May this year, Meg's daughter returned to the UK and, within 10 days, caught the Delta strain. Her UK-based parents and sister have also had Covid-19.
"I wouldn't wish it on anybody."