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Coronavirus: Poorly DUP councillor tells of 'shock to system'

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DUP councillor Lavelle McIlwrath

DUP councillor Lavelle McIlwrath

DUP councillor Lavelle McIlwrath

DUP councillor Lavelle McIlwrath says he feels truly grateful to have overcome the "debilitating symptoms" of suspected coronavirus.

The 55-year-old member of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council developed a fever, stomach pains, a raised temperature and general flu-like symptoms on March 12.

Having not been able to get tested for the virus, the Portadown representative decided to go into self-isolation for two weeks as a precaution.

Cllr McIlwrath says he spent several days confined to his bedroom, and that at times he was so ill he was unable to even lift his head off the pillow.

"It's been a rough couple of weeks but I'm just so thankful to have made it out the other side.

"There are so many others much worse off than me," he told the Belfast Telegraph from his home in Tandragee yesterday.

He added: "I had my doubts initially about whether it was coronavirus but as the days wore on, I developed shivers and a high temperature.

"Having listened to a GP on BBC's The One Show and from speaking to another one on the phone, my wife Pauline and I realised that it sounded more and more like I had the virus.

"Within a few days I started to go downhill and felt so weak and fatigued with continual nausea.

"My arms and legs felt like I was carrying around sandbags."

Mr McIlwrath said: "Last week, when the weather improved, I thought to myself that I needed to get out in the fresh air.

"I walked around the garden a couple of times but the sickness would return so I'd have to go back in and lie down again.

"After about 10 days I really was beginning to wonder if I would turn the corner, because I have had bad bugs and flus in the past but this was the strangest ever. I'd consider myself quite a fit and healthy person who is literally out and about all the time so this came as a big shock to the system. It's hard to describe but it was like something I've never had before in terms of the symptoms and pain.

"It was the loss of the senses of smell and taste that I found really weird and they are just starting to slowly come back now.

"Thankfully the one saving grace for me was that I had no breathing difficulties because if I had, I can understand how that would wipe you out."

More than two weeks on from developing symptoms, the father of three and grandfather of two still has no idea how his illness was contracted.

He is urging people to protect themselves and others from the "killer virus" which has now claimed the lives of 13 people in Northern Ireland.

"Thankfully it seems the penny is finally starting to drop with people and they realise that this is deadly serious.

"This virus is no respecter of persons but hopefully the lockdown will help kill off some of it and get our health system through this difficult period.

"I feel so sorry for those on their own as this is a very lonely time and also a scary one for our elderly population."

Belfast Telegraph