‘If I lost focus on my breathing, I felt like I was drowning’: Father-of-two, 29, in later stages of coronavirus recovery gives stark warning to Britons ignoring social distancing advice
- Laura Jacobs caught coronavirus from her mother following a holiday in Italy
- The NHS admin worker, 31, fell ill with the virus alongside her husband, Matthew
- Assured families they can ‘get through this’ as pandemic worsens across the UK
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
A father-of-two recovering from coronavirus has issued a stark warning to young people who think they will not be affected by the disease.
Daryl Doblados, from Littleport in Cambridgeshire, was diagnosed with Covid-19 on March 19.
He woke up aching, with a high temperature, sore throat and shortness of breath, before being taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
The 29-year-old said it felt like his lungs were ‘filling up with smoke’ as he struggled to breathe.
Warning others to take care and abide by social distancing guidelines, he said: ‘Do not take this for granted, it’s really not a joke.’
Daryl Doblados, from Littleport in Cambridgeshire, was diagnosed with Covid-19 on March 19.
The 29-year-old said it felt like his lungs were ‘filling up with smoke’ as he struggled to breathe. Warning others to take care and abide by social distancing guidelines, he said: ‘Do not take this for granted, it’s really not a joke.’
Mr Doblados said that even as a healthy 29-year-old he was still ‘floored’ by what the doctors considered a mild case of coronavirus.
He is now self-isolating, staying away from his partner and two young children.
Mr Doblados said: ‘I was consistently trying to focus on my breathing because once I lost control of the breathing, I felt like I was drowning.
‘It feels like your lungs are filling up with smoke or liquid and it’s a real struggle to breathe. I’ve never felt anything like this.
‘I really feel for those who contracted a severe or critical case. It’s really the breathing problem that gets to you and I’ve only got a mild case. I’m in seven days of isolation in my bedroom.’
NHS worker Laura Jacobs, 31, with her husband Matthew and their children. The couple were struck down with Covid-19
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS?
Like other coronaviruses, including those that cause the common cold and that triggered SARS, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness.
- The most common symptoms are:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
Although having a runny nose doesn’t rule out coronavirus, it doesn’t thus far appear to be a primary symptom.
Most people only become mildly ill, but the infection can turn serious and even deadly, especially for those who are older or have underlying health conditions.
In these cases, patients develop pneumonia, which can cause:
- Potentially with yellow, green or bloody mucus
- Fever, sweating and shaking chills
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid or shallow breathing
- Pain when breathing, especially when breathing deeply or coughing
- Low appetite, energy and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting (more common in children)
- Confusion (more common in elderly people)
- Some patients have also reported diarrhea and kidney failure has occassionally been a complication.
Avoid people with these symtpoms. If you develop them, call your health care provider before going to the hospital or doctor, so they and you can prepare to minimize possivle exposure if they suspect you have coronavirus.
Meanwhile, a mother who recovered from coronavirus is also sharing her experience to reassure other parents and help them deal with the illness.
NHS worker Laura Jacobs, 31, caught Covid-19 from her own mother after she returned from a holiday in Italy last month.
The mother-of-two, from Neath in South Wales, quickly fell ill alongside her husband and suffered a fever, aches, a tight chest and tiredness.
She battled coronavirus alongside her mother Melissa Powell and husband Matthew.
The 31-year-ols said: ‘My symptoms came from nowhere. I felt absolutely fine at work and then bang, all of the symptoms arrived at once.
‘I had a high fever, shivers, intense aching pains in my back and neck, sore throat, painfully tight chest and fatigue.’
The mother-of-two, who works in admin at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, South Wales, said her five-year-old daughter Ava and 10-month-old Miles were also tested.
She added: ‘I wanted people to see that you shouldn’t take it lightly but I think people just want reassurance.
‘My mum had been to Italy and went to an area that wasn’t infected at the time, there were no reported cases.
‘They came back on February 22, and within three days started showing symptoms and then I caught it off her.’
But her mother suffered with worse symptoms because she has a history of pneumonia.
Mrs Jacobs added: ‘At first I thought I had the flu, I knew it wasn’t a cold.
‘A community nurse came to the house in protective clothing, a mask and visor.
‘She tested me, my husband and children at the same time.
‘The kids came back as negative and we were surprised because we are round them all the time, giving them hugs and kisses.’
Mrs Jacobs caught Covid-19 from her own mother after she returned from a holiday in Italy last month
She added: ‘The worst was the fever for days, high temperature shivers, horrible aching up my back and around my neck, you feel like you can’t move, you’re exhausted.
‘The fever is definitely the worst bit.’
Her husband Matthew, 35, was also hit worse as he has asthma and developed viral pneumonia so was admitted to Morriston Hospital overnight.
Mrs Jacobs said: ‘He is on the mend the past two days, he’s eating more.
‘My consultant is quite confident that once you have had it once you won’t have it again.’
In other major developments today:
- The government has suspended rail franchises to maintain services, as operators faced collapse with passenger numbers tumbling;
- Mr Hancock has insisted he will ensure that NHS staff get all the personal protection equipment they need, amid fear they are currently ‘lambs to the slaughter’ when treating patients;
- The government has formally warned Britons flocking to campsites and holiday homes away from cities that it does not count as ‘essential travel;
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing a fresh economic bailout for five-million self-employed amid warnings thousands of sole traders will not survive the crisis;
- The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, has said no new trials will start and that ongoing trials will be paused while arrangements are put in place so they can continue safely;
- Health minister Nadine Dorries, the first MP confirmed with coronavirus, has returned to work after recovering from the illness;
- The government is pushing emergency legislation through the Commons today, but Tory and Labour MPs have secured more checks on the measures including a fresh vote in six months;
- Research has suggested that the government’s current policy could still result in up to 70,000 deaths from coronavirus;
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS?
What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.
The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.
Where does the virus come from?
According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a coronavirus they found in bats.
However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.
Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.
‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’
How does the virus spread?
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. It can also live on surfaces, such as plastic and steel, for up to 72 hours, meaning people can catch it by touching contaminated surfaces.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.
However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.
Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.
Can the virus be cured?
The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak was declared a pandemic on March 11. A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
Previously, the UN agency said most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.
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