A CLEANER who was struck by coronavirus in January and spent 17 days in intensive care is still suffering with so-called long Covid.
Joanne Rogers, 51, from Colchester, Essex, thought she had the flu when she began to feel unwell at the start of this year.
The mum-of-one put up with her symptoms for two weeks before she was taken to hospital however medics didn’t test for Covid-19.
It was thought at this point in mid-February that only people who had recently returned from abroad had been exposed to the deadly bug.
Joanne had not travelled anywhere, yet it’s now believed she could be one of the earliest cases of Covid in the UK after an antibody test in June showed she had been exposed to the virus, according to the Mirror.
She told the newspaper that she feared she would die in hospital and her partner even warned her daughter Lauren she might not make it.
Joanne said: “I felt a bit of a fraud to have an ambulance coming out for me because I just thought I had the flu.
“One of the last things I remember was going in to resus and joking with the doctor, saying, ‘I’m not going to die am I?’ He said: ‘Not on my shift.’”
I felt a bit of a fraud to have an ambulance coming out for me because I just thought I had the flu
Her daughter Lauren said: “Richard came home one day and told me to sit down. He’d been told it was 50/50. He started crying and said, ‘I don’t think your mum is going to make it’.”
The mum said she had been ill for two weeks when partner Richard Shepherd called NHS 111 on February 15 to seek help.
An ambulance was sent to her home and she was admitted to hospital, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia and put in an induced coma.
She underwent a tracheostomy – a delicate medical procedure that allows air to enter the lungs – as well as a ventilator.
But her condition had triggered a cytokine storm which is an overreaction of the body’s immune system that has been associated with Covid patients.
After dealing with the pandemic for several months, doctors have found a few drugs can alleviate this immune response in patients.
However, when Joanne was in hospital, not much was known about Covid-19.
Joanne was not tested for coronavirus during her 17-day stay in intensive care, but an antibody test in June showed she had previously had Covid-19.
An antibody test, however, is not able to show exactly when someone had the virus, so it is not completely certain that she had it in January.
Joanne has said she is now suffering from anxiety, fatigue and muscle pain, but she had to return to work after her sick pay ended this month.
She said she can only manage to work for about two hours a day because she is suffering from so-called Long Covid.
A study by King’s College London found about 10 per cent of people with Covid-19 take at least three weeks to recover, with 250,000 people in the UK thought to experience symptoms for 30 days or more.
Long Covid is not a medical term, but has been used to describe symptoms patients continue suffering even months after contracting the virus.
1 in 20 suffer Covid syptoms 8 weeks later
One in 20 people with Covid-19 are still suffering symptoms eight weeks later, while one in 50 are struggling after three months, experts have found.
Research from King’s College London, using data from the Covid Symptom Study app, showed there are potentially hundreds of thousands of people in the UK – and millions worldwide – suffering with long Covid.
Symptoms of long Covid include ongoing fatigue, ongoing loss of taste or smell, respiratory and cardiovascular problems and mental health issues.
The study, led by Dr Claire Steves and Professor Tim Spector, included data from 4,182 Covid Symptom Study app users who tested positive for Covid-19 following a swab and who have been logging their health on an ongoing basis.
The team found that older people, women and those with a greater number of different symptoms in the first week of their illness were more likely to develop long Covid.
Weight also played a role, with people developing long Covid having a slightly higher average body mass index (BMI) than those experiencing a short illness.
The study found that women were 50 per cent more likely to suffer from long Covid than men, but only among the under-50s age group.
People with asthma were more likely to develop long Covid, although there were no clear links to any other underlying health conditions.
The study found that those experiencing more than five symptoms during the first week of illness were more than three times more likely to experience long Covid.
Meanwhile, those with long Covid were twice as likely to say their symptoms had come back again after initial recovery compared with those having a short illness (16 per cent compared to 8.4 per cent).
Prof Francois Balloux of University College London said of Joanne: “I think this will be the earliest documented confirmed case in the UK.”
The professor added he is convinced that many cases went undiagnosed around January.
He also said: “It is estimated there were around 1,400 separate introductions of Covid-19 in to the UK.
“That’s why in the UK, unlike other countries, there’s really no such thing as a Patient Zero because so many places had it. This made it very difficult to control here.”
When coronavirus hit the UK, not much was known about it and it is believed many people who had it at the beginning of the outbreak were not diagnosed.
We previously reported the story of a man who died in hospital in January with heart failure and pneumonia initially blamed.
Peter Attwood, 84, became ill with a mystery cough and fever shortly after Christmas.
But tests then showed Covid was a cause of death – making him the UK’s first recorded virus victim and the first outside China.
His daughter Jane blasted: “If China hadn’t lied to the rest of the world and kept this hidden for so long, it could have saved countless lives.”
She added: “Covid has obviously been around for much longer than we know. People have been talking about a cover-up but we don’t know the scale of it.
“My father could still be here if we’d known about the threat of this horrible virus earlier.”
According to the latest data, the UK has recorded 873,800 coronavirus cases and 44,896 Covid-related deaths.