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Former chair of Royal College of GPs who caught virus describes how it really felt - from NHS 111 not replying, to a throat like knives, raging fever and how her '60-year-old body' defended itself... and won

March 18, 2020

Coronavirus cases in the UK are rapidly climbing, and the spiralling outbreak yesterday prompted Boris Johnson to take the drastic step of advising against all social contact in a dramatic measure to delay the spread of infection.

 

But despite these distancing measures, the government estimates many more people will catch the disease which has so far killed 55.

 

As scores of Britons worry about contracting Covid-19, Dr Clare Gerada, 60, a GP in Lambeth, South London, and former chair of the Royal College of GPs who tested positive last week, describes what it's really like to have coronavirus.

 

Here she describes how rapidly she fell ill... 

 

Just a little out of sorts was how I felt at first. Initially, I thought I probably had a bit of jetlag.

 

Three days previously I had flown back from New York, where I'd been attending a psychiatry conference.

 

As I left for home, New York declared a state of emergency because of the coronavirus and I felt relieved that I was escaping — I even went to the airport four hours earlier than I needed to, I was so eager to get home.

 

 

 

I didn't really know what 'a state of emergency' meant, and I was worried they might stop the flights.

I arrived back on a Sunday morning and went to work on Monday.

 

By Tuesday morning, though, as well as feeling rather tired, I had started with a new dry cough. Yet it was so mild to begin with, I barely gave it a second thought and put it down to the 'cabin cough' you sometimes get after a long flight.

 

Soon after that, though, I quickly developed a terrible sore throat. I know some people say you don't always get a sore throat with corona, but I did — it felt as if someone had put knives in my throat. And then the high temperature hit. I was feverish and got the shakes.

 

It was then I began to think: could it be coronavirus? I think I knew it was right away — but, strangely, I didn't feel scared, as I have no underlying health problems. I'm fit and I walk a lot.

 

I realised going to work was out of the question and I looked online for advice, as I'd been out of the country for six days and things had moved on rapidly in that time. Even I wasn't sure what the latest guidance was.

 

Dr Clare Gerada, 60, the former chair of the Royal College of GPs who tested positive last week, said she was just a little out of sorts at first

 

Dr Gerada had recently returned from New York, which has declared a state of emergency and closed usually thriving bars and restaurants (Times Square pictured empty)

 

So I emailed 111. When I didn't hear back, I went to a testing pod at a local hospital.

 

At first they weren't going to send me for testing, as at that time the U.S. wasn't one of the countries this was advised for. But I explained that New York had declared a state of emergency and it was endemic there.

 

I knew it was the coronavirus, as I am never normally ill and the flu season was all but over — plus I'd had my jab.

Coronavirus cases in the UK are rapidly climbing, and the spiralling outbreak yesterday prompted Boris Johnson to take the drastic step of advising against all social contact in a desperate measure to delay the spread of infection

 

And this was obviously more than a cold. Within hours of getting my first symptoms I wasn't able to eat. I went for two days with no food at all, as I had no appetite and also had a horrible metallic taste in my mouth which made food taste unpleasant. Eating felt like too much effort.

 

I collapsed into bed and had very fitful sleep because of my high temperature, but I forced myself to drink a lot — lemonade and bitter lemon. I couldn't drink tea because my mouth and throat were so sore.

 

Within hours my nose became full of ulcers and I imagine the back of my mouth was the same.

 

All I wanted to do was sleep — I'd considered keeping a video diary, but even the thought of a holding a phone seemed too much.

 

I took two paracetamol every eight hours.

 

I rang my husband, Simon, he came home from work and we kept a safe distance from each other. He slept in the spare room, I put all my crockery in the dishwasher and we didn't share towels. So far he hasn't been ill, though he has stayed in the house. A neighbour has been walking our dog.

New Yorkers wearing face masks are pictured in Times Square amid the city's outbreak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more from dailymail.co.uk

 

 

My view:  Good for her that her 60 year old body fought the virus off but so many other people her age don't make it, but the flu does not last half a day. It is quite clear that some experts are out of touch with reality.

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