Darby Ryan thought she was doing everything right to avoid COVID - being cautious about where she went, working mostly from home, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated.
But that didn't stop her contracting the virus, which left her "the sickest I've ever been" despite being an otherwise healthy, active 24-year-old.
Last month Ms Ryan worked two days in her Ballarat CBD office, in Victoria's Central Highlands, where a co-worker later tested positive - and she was the only other person to contract COVID after the pair travelled in a lift together.
Having had her first Pfizer vaccination just four days before she was exposed to the virus, she was not yet protected from COVID because the vaccinations take two weeks before providing coverage against the contagion.
The timing of her vaccination is her one regret, having waited until Pfizer was available for her age group instead of getting an AstraZeneca jab earlier.
"I only got my vaccination four days before I got COVID so I wasn't really protected ...so I was kicking myself I didn't get the AstraZeneca earlier, though I did book in straight away the day Pfizer was announced," she said.
Although clinically she had a 'mild case' of COVID the severity and speed of the illness took her by surprise.
"I worked in the office Monday and Tuesday, then worked from home Wednesday and Ballarat was going in to lockdown Thursday morning," she said.
"I was meant to go for a walk with a friend on Thursday night and weirdly, like my body knew I was off, I cancelled but I only had a slight sore throat," she said.
"On Friday my nose started to drip and my throat was really sore by the end of the day and after I finished working from home I didn't leave the couch.
"Then I had the worst headache I've ever had, so I did the right thing and got a test, not thinking it was COVID because there was only five cases in Ballarat at that point and I had not been to any known exposure sites."
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After her test on Saturday morning she spent all weekend on the couch.
"That's just not me. Normally even if I feel off I still get up and make dinner and that, but I literally didn't leave the couch. I even joked with my partner maybe it is COVID because I've never felt like this before."
When her partner Aidan Thompson bought her chocolate over the weekend to make her feel better, she realised she couldn't taste it. And when the test result still wasn't back on Sunday night Ms Ryan became nervous about the result.
"On Monday morning I woke up and leaned over to grab my phone to call in sick to work, then I got a call to say I was positive to COVID," she said.
"It was a big shock, but then also it wasn't because I felt so off."
I don't understand why anyone wouldn't get vaccinated. If you do get COVID ... it's shown that if you are vaccinated you are not going to get as sick.- Darby Ryan
On Monday night she ended up going to hospital with breathing difficulties.
"I couldn't get my breath. I had been lying in bed for ages but couldn't catch my breath," she said.
After several hours of oxygen she was much improved and discharged, but still suffered some shortness of breath for a few more days.
"At no point did I have a cough, and I thought with COVID I would have a big cough," she said.
After receiving her positive test result, Ms Ryan had to isolate from Mr Thompson in their home.
She locked herself in her bedroom, while Mr Thompson stayed in a different bedroom and used their other bathroom.
"The first bit of it I was so unwell I couldn't even tell you what I did - I just lay in bed but by the end of it I was working from home, working in my bedroom.
"It was my birthday on one of the days so people bought flowers to the house and my room looked like a florist shop so that was good."
Mr Thompson took over the cooking while his partner was isolating, delivering food to her bedroom door each day.
Although they expected Mr Thompson to also get the virus because of the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant, he did not. He had four COVID tests during his partner's illness and quarantine period, each one returning a negative result.
The couple both expected to be released from quarantine and isolation on October 1, but three hours before they expected the all clear Mr Thompson was told he had to isolate for a further 14 days because he is classed as a tier one from the last date of her quarantine period.
So they are hanging out for Friday when, after another hopefully negative test result, they can leave the house together for the first time in a month.
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It took more than two weeks from when Ms Ryan fell ill for her sense of taste and smell to return, but she still suffers chest pain which doctors have assured her is common after COVID. And while she is back working full time, she fatigues easily.
"I feel like it's haunting me," she said.
Having experienced the ravages of the illness first-hand, and with more than 60 Ballarat residents having contracted COVID during the current outbreak, she cannot understand those who still claim the virus is fake or who refuse to get vaccinated.
"Why would you choose to get sick from it?" she said.
"I don't understand why anyone wouldn't get vaccinated. If you do get COVID ... it's shown that if you are vaccinated you are not going to get as sick.
"I'm only young and having COVID is the worst I have ever felt, so why wouldn't you protect yourself against it?"
Ms Ryan must now wait at least six months before getting her second dose of vaccine, but having had the virus her body has now mounted the immune response that a vaccine would induce.
But she is concerned about how the vaccinated economy will play out for her not being fully vaccinated and having to show an exemption everywhere she goes.
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