Covid-19 has claimed the lives of over 100,000 people since the pandemic began, but it has affected each family differently. Many of those who tragically lost their battle to the virus were not able to spend their final days with loved ones due to stringent hospital rules. 

One virus, different accounts

Since the country went into its third national lockdown, most major hospitals have only allowed essential visits. Here, ‘essential’ means when the patient has no chance of survival.

As I write this article, I mourn the loss of my 63-year-old uncle to Covid-19. Though he was beset by many health problems, including dementia and diabetes which prevented him from getting his jab, when he contracted the virus his rapid decline was no less stressful for all of us. My uncle was admitted to a local hospital in Plymouth ten days before he died.

According to the Plymouth city council website, just 140 Plymouth-based residents have succumbed to Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak in early 2020.

Plymouth is a city that houses a big university and many colleges and schools, so there is a higher risk of local residents catching the virus and transmitting it to those who are vulnerable. This was the case with my uncle. In the week of his death, he was only 1 of 4 residents to die from the virus in the city.

Another member of my family, my 49-year-old half-sister, also caught Covid. Her story was different. She had already received her first jab since her workplace is strict on testing. She works in a care home for the elderly and those with dementia, so rapid weekly testing is mandatory. However, she received what is known as a ‘false negative’. Her results put her in the clear despite her carrying the virus.

A same-day result test came back negative, but she still landed in the local hospital for 10 days. She was then released without further tests because the bed was needed for more severe patients.

The question that needs to be addressed is this: why was testing not done on her discharge? If she was still positive, she should have been kept in to contain the virus. The hospital she stayed at is located just under 20 miles away from where our family lives in South-West England, yet people wonder why the virus is still spreading.

The challenges of getting Long Covid

I have also encountered many other people who have caught the virus and suffered from its lasting health impact. Andrew Gwynne MP, the MP for Denton and Reddish has announced that he has what is known as ‘Long Covid’. Those who get this, experience various symptoms such as headaches, debilitating tiredness and ‘mental fog’ for months after having supposedly beaten the virus.

Gwynne has been working with the chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, Layla Moran MP, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, to secure debates and government commitments for the growing number of people with long Covid.

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