St George coronavirus patient joins study on long-term effects of COVID-19

Still recovering: Joseph Tannous during a visit to St George Hospital to thank staff who cared for him. Picture: Supplied

Still recovering: Joseph Tannous during a visit to St George Hospital to thank staff who cared for him. Picture: Supplied

A Brighton-Le-Sands man who spent two weeks in St George Hospital's intensive care ward battling coronavirus is part of a study examining the long-term effects of the disease.

Joseph Tannous, then 49, was a fit and healthy businessman when he tested positive for coronavirus in March this year. He had attended a Liberal party event with Federal MP and Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, who also tested positive to COVID-19.

Several days after his diagnosis, Mr Tannous was rushed to hospital after finding it difficult to breathe. It was the start of a two-week fight for life.

After receiving 60 litres of oxygen, doctors at St George Hospital gave him some grim news.

"They said 'What we are doing is not working. We need to take a different approach'," he told the Leader in May.

"They said they would have to intubate me and put tubes down my throat to help me breathe.

"I did ask, 'Am I going to come out the other end?' They just said 'We will do our best'."

He spent the next two weeks in the hospital's intensive care unit battling COVID-19 related pneumonia. For 10 days, he was critically ill, in an induced coma and required a ventilator to breathe.

Twice his family were told he might not pull through.

Mr Tannous woke up on April 1 and was discharged from hospital a week later.

But five months on, he has still not returned to full health and is part of a study being conducted at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney about the long-term effects of the disease.

During an interview with 60 Minutes that aired this week, Mr Tannous said he still found it difficult to do many things he used to do, such as climb a flight of stairs, work out at the gym or go for a walk.

He urged people not to discount how sick COVID-19 could make someone who was fit and healthy like he was when he contracted the deadly disease, telling the Leader in May: "I think it's very important that people, particularly younger people, stop taking the attitude that it won't happen to them and coronavirus will only cause serious health problems for those who are elderly.

"I want people to know that this virus can cause severe illness to anyone, so people need to take this seriously," he said.