The mask and the red death

As we enter a second lockdown, initially for a month, I’ve thought about how much has been written and debated about the Coronavirus since it appeared globally at the beginning of the year. Some real, some false and some downright dangerous. Injecting bleach. Really? I’ve known a few people who have been asked to self-isolate, as they may have come into contact with someone who may have had it. Someone I know at work caught it, but are better now. But I don’t know anyone locally who has been diagnosed with it. So, I was stunned to find out that one of my Beeston-based Facebook friends announced recently that they had been infected and have had it. So I contacted them, to find out whether they would be willing to share their experience of catching the scarlet coloured killer. They were happy to, as they wanted to make as many people aware of the seriousness of the pandemic.

Paolo Lannattone comes from Ausonia in central Italy and has been living in Beeston with his family for more than five years now. They love Beeston and plan to stay here for a long time. He is a piano and music theory teacher at MLC Academy in West Bridgford and has composed music for Italian films. He also attended the last year of a degree course in Music Technology at the University of Derby.

Firstly I asked Paolo how he initially became aware that he might have caught Covid.

“In mid-October, the NHS app reported to the whole family that we had been in contact with someone who tested positive. So we self-isolated. A few days later, my wife and daughter started having the first symptoms and requested the test. It came back positive. A few days later, I too started having the first symptoms, such as fever and a cough. So I too took the test, to which I also tested positive.

“We don’t know exactly who transmitted the virus to us. The app respects the privacy of users, so it only warns that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. So you must self-isolate. However, I must underline that thanks to the NHS app we were able to self-isolate a few days before having the first symptoms, thus avoiding any further spreading of the virus.

“A few days later, the symptoms became more difficult to manage. In addition to having a fever and cough, a strong sense of fatigue and shortness of breath appeared. For 10 days, it was very intense. Although I am an amateur runner, running more or less 20km a week, I was struggling to climb the flight of stairs in the house. More than once I thought that soon I would end up in the hospital with a ventilator because my breath was really short. It helped a lot to sit or lie in bed, so I could manage my breath a little better.

“Fortunately I did not need any hospital treatment. Although for a few days I was afraid of having to call 111, as I was advised to by the NHS operators who were in contact with me daily. Just in case I needed it. I’ve had the symptoms of Covid-19 for about 25 days now and they have not yet completely passed. I tire easily. I have sudden coughing episodes, especially when I wake up and when I go to sleep. I have completely lost my taste and smell and have not yet recovered them.

So you are still struggling?

“After my fever passed, the NHS allowed me to go out again. I don’t go out much because I don’t have much strength in my legs. I go for small walks with my wife Claudia and dog Jackie. At present, I don’t know how long these symptoms will last. Some acquaintances of mine, who contracted the virus, has had the same symptoms, and they’ve lasted for two and a half months now. Considering my situation, this is an entirely probable scenario. I think it is good to have patience and wait for it to pass. Hoping it does not leave deeper consequences. Considering that science does not have a thorough knowledge of this virus yet.

What about the rest of the family. How are they doing?

“Claudia and Ali are getting better. Ali has returned to Bilborough College. Claudia will go back to her job after the lockdown. They got exactly the same symptoms but fortunately it hasn’t lasted as long for them.

“What’s your view about the imminent availability of a vaccine?” “Obviously I think the vaccine is great news, but it will take longer than we think to get it for everyone. The first problem is that it needs to be preserved and transported at minus 80 degrees. I’m not sure about how many facilities we have in the UK for this kind of storage at the moment. The second is that the number of requested doses is very high and we have to be patient. It won’t be available for all for a while.

“There are of course other drug companies around the world that are working on a solution to the virus. So maybe between them, they should be able to come up with something to see the virus off. Or it may be one of those diseases that humanity has to live with, like the flu, the common cold or malaria. And as Paolo says, we will just have to wait and see what happens.”

CF

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