Covid 19: Two BME men from completely different worlds struck down and lived to tell the tale

Whilst we were waiting for Covid 19 to arrive from the East and whilst the powers that be were saying the old were particularly vulnerable and young people had no need to worry,  we had no real comprehension of exactly what it would mean for our society. China was on lockdown and  we all watched the news believing it was something far away in a different society with different customs.

It was alien to us, even so, the New York Fashion Week, an international event where the worldwide fashionista  assemble seemed a little intrepid as we watched from afar.   By the time London Fashion Week arrived we were starting to become quite wary. Invitations to a variety of events were not being acknowledged and some that were suffered no shows;  were either cancelled or closed events in order to err on the side of caution. We had no idea of what was to come.

Little did we know we were about to be hit,  and even then many of the early victims of Covid19 did not make headline news. We were led to believe that primarily old people were the most vulnerable.

The usual crowd descended on Paris for Fashion week though somewhat muted and by this time it was being reported that certain regions close to Milan had severely  been hit. Nevertheless, the Milanese, Londoners,  Asians and many of the seasoned attendees  descended on Paris for Fashion Week as usual for the bi-annual celebrations.

Within a couple of weeks on returning to London several young people came down with the virus. In those days, and I refer to it that way as it seems so long ago although just a few  months   NHS 111 were meticulously taking details of symptoms and speedily organising tests.

No one had any idea of the scale and level of what was about to come. The symptoms were somewhat bizarre, loss of sense of smell and taste, unusual coughs coupled with breathing difficulty and extreme fatigue. Some had vivid dreams and generally the sense that this was something they may not make it through. On average those I met suffered for 3 weeks to a greater or lesser degree. Several were even more certain they would not make it through.

Errol and Abdul, both living alone, were just two of the people who were struck down. Errol a Financial Accountant is a middle aged man who had never been sick in his life and had not left England whilst Abdul, a normally healthy young man in his thirties had travelled to Paris, Bali and Bangkok  amongst other places. They do not know each other.

We are all familiar with the basic symptoms that have been well publicised but Errol explained how he felt at times that he was having his last breadth as he struggled to breath whilst Abdul explained that he had to crawl out of bed to get to the bathroom and that alone could take hours. Errol explains how every couple of days he would feel as though he was getting better, then he would descend to a new lower level of symptoms. One night when he couldn’t breath,  feeling his lungs were collapsing he  dialled 999 and  they organised for a GP to speak with him post haste. He was diagnosed remotely and within hours the NHS had organised his medication and had it delivered to his house.

Abdul on the other hand had his initial  symptoms several weeks beforehand and had been confirmed, through testing organised by NHS 111 (before the test kits were in short supply) that he was positive and just had to recover without medication although the process was long and frightening. Errol explained that he had just bought a new car and was sure that he would never get the chance to drive it. But, he did.

Both have now fully recovered and are back at work and Errol, who was brought up as a Seventh Day Adventist has vowed he will “start going to church again as soon as the lockdown is lifted.”  Abdul is just grateful he came out on the other side, the right side of life.


Main Photo: Errol Charles