As lockdown is easing in the UK a handful of people are questioning the severity of the virus and spreading misinformation, which could cost lives.
Dr Fiona Ford, GP in Hyndburn for nearly 20 years, says this is a dangerous thought process and hopes by sharing her own experience people will take the threat seriously and protect their family, friends and our vulnerable community.
In March Fiona and her husband both contracted Covid-19 and are still suffering the long-term effects of the illness, despite never being hospitalised for it.
“Up until now in Hyndburn there haven’t been many cases of Covid-19, so some people have started to spread misinformation and question the severity. Now as lockdown eases, I want to tell people what it is actually like to have the virus.”
Fiona explains that only a very small percentage of people who have Covid-19 end up on a ventilator. However, people who contract a ‘mild’ form of the virus that doesn’t require hospitalisation can still experience awful long-lasting effects and also put their loved ones or the wider community at risk.
“At the beginning of March, before the lockdown came, I travelled through London one day, I assume this is where I picked it up. About five days after this I started to have a cough and feel very tired one night, so I began to be a bit suspicious. The next day I very quickly got worse, I had a fever, I was shaking and had a violent headache.”
The pain then spread to many other areas in her body and she experienced strange symptoms including eye pain and being unable to taste or smell things.
“I self-isolated away from everyone including my husband but it was a real struggle. I had real difficulty getting up, even just going to the bathroom or getting washed and dressed. I was very drowsy and don’t remember much except the pain. I had strange symptoms; I couldn’t even taste my toothpaste.”
Even though Fiona self-isolated and took precautions her husband did catch the virus.
“He was not as bad as me for the first week but then suddenly he became much much worse. For 36 hours he was semi-conscious with very low oxygen levels. It is only because I am a GP, he was able to stay at home.”
Fiona stayed up with her husband for 36 hours monitoring his oxygen levels.
“It was one of the worst times of my whole life and I am quite sure no one else would choose to go through that or choose to put anyone else through that.”
“The initial unsteadiness lasted until the end of June; I couldn’t even walk to the end of the garden. Even now my sense of smell and taste are not back to normal and I have a headache every single day which I did not have before.
“What I want to say is this is not a normal illness; it is a very long-lasting and unpleasant illness even if you do survive or don’t end up being one of the people you hear about in hospital on ventilators. A normal dose of Coronavirus is a terrible thing.
“If by any chance you are one of the lucky ones who doesn’t actually get symptoms, then what happens is you go out and give it to everyone else without even knowing that.
“Take this seriously, it is not a hoax. Follow the guidelines, get a test, social distance. You really do not want this illness and you also do not want to be responsible for giving it to someone else.”
Hyndburn Borough Council are encouraging EVERYONE to get a Covid-19 test, even if they do not have symptoms. Through widespread testing any positive cases can be identified, and NHS test and trace can work to. Prevent further transmission.
Information about testing in Hyndburn: https://www.hyndburnbc.gov.uk/news/hyndburns-two-covid-19-test-centres-which-one-should-you-go-to/