A housekeeper from Essex, the UK’s first known coronavirus patient, said she was still suffering from the effects of the disease, eight months later.
Joanne Rogers, 51, of Colchester, Essex, fell ill with flu-like symptoms in late January and spent two weeks in bed at home with the mysterious illness before being rushed to hospital.
At the time, on February 15, covid-19 was still considered a distant virus, posing minimal risk to the British public, with just nine people – Chinese students and those who had visited a French ski resort – being invited to isolate by Public Health England.
Ms Rogers recalls how she felt like a ‘fraud’ to have been driven to hospital in an ambulance for ‘the flu’ after her worried partner Richard Shepherd called NHS 111.
Joanne Rogers, 51, (left) from Colchester, Essex, and her daughter Lauren, 20
She told the Mirror: “One of the last things I remember was doing a cover and joking around with the doctor saying, ‘I’m not going to die, am I? He said, ‘Not during my shift. “
But just 24 hours later, the mother was diagnosed with severe and unexplained pneumonia – forcing doctors to put Ms Rogers on a ventilator and put her into a coma to improve her chances of survival.
Doctors also performed a tracheostomy, which involves cutting a temporary or permanent hole in the neck to place a tube in the trachea.
As it is now known to be a common immune response in patients with covid-19, Ms. Roger’s body began to release an excessive amount of molecules causing inflammation, known as a “cytokine storm”.
During her 17-day stay in intensive care, Ms Rogers was not tested for the coronavirus – leaving doctors with no indication they were dealing with a covid patient.
Ms Rogers (left) was not tested for covid-19 during her 17-day stay in intensive care. Pictured with daughter Lauren
Ms Roger’s daughter Lauren told the Mirror how her mother’s partner Richard had sat her down and reported that doctors had given her mother a 50/50 percent chance of survival.
Ms Rogers then tested positive for antibodies, which led Professor François Balloux of University College London to suggest that she was probably one of the first patients with covid-19 in the UK.
He told the publication: “At the time, no one could have predicted what a disaster this would be. I am absolutely convinced that there will have been quite a few undiagnosed cases.
He added that as the UK has had as many as 1,400 separate introductions of covid-19, no patient zero could be identified as in other countries.
Ms. Rogers is now dealing with the long-term effects of covid-19, including severe anxiety, fatigue and muscle pain.
Despite this, she had no choice but to return to work, 2 hours a day, until covid qualifies her for personal independence payments as she is not considered a disability.
She also has to deal with the psychological effects of the nightmares she suffered during the 12-day coma that continue to haunt her.
A coronavirus tracking app designed by King’s College London, which asks users to report their symptoms, found that hundreds of its more than two million users suffered from Covid-like symptoms soon after the New Year.
Some even said they suffered symptoms corresponding to the virus at the end of December.
Although untested, reports suggest the virus was circulating across the UK long before it was identified.
Britain recorded 151 more Covid-19 deaths on Sunday – more than double the total from last Sunday.
Some 19,790 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the UK, marking an increase of just 16.5% from the 16,982 cases reported last Sunday.
However, the daily death toll has skyrocketed 125 percent from the 67 deaths reported on Sunday last week.
The 151 deaths from Covid-19 in all settings – including hospitals, care homes and the wider community – reported today are the highest death toll on Sunday since May 24.