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Fermanagh wedding photographer (36) struck down by Covid warns of dangers

Photographer was working at wedding venue

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Louie McMaster in hospital

Louie McMaster in hospital

Louie McMaster in hospital

A Co Fermanagh wedding photographer has issued a warning over the dangers of Covid after both he and his wife were struck down by the virus while working at one of Northern Ireland's most exclusive venues 11 days ago.

Louie McMaster (36) from Enniskillen is believed to have been working at a reception at Belle Isle Estate, near Lisbellaw, alongside his wife and fellow photographer Lou.

It's believed several members of the wedding party tested positive for the virus after the event.

The PSNI said it was not investigating any suspected breaches of coronavirus regulations following the event, but as a police officer had been among the guests, 20 officers are now self-isolating as a precaution.

Posting on Facebook last night, Louie said: "If what has happened to me can create an added vigilance and stir a greater awareness within someone, then is has served a purpose.

"I have always been someone that has paid attention to the Covid-19 pandemic but, like many, I thought I was one of those people that would remain relatively unscathed if I did contract the virus. I'm not high risk, I'm young, 36, have been pushing the levels of my fitness with over five years of hard training under me, competing in national level competitions and even in the UK."

Louie said he had been feeling the fittest, strongest and fastest he's ever been and thought the virus wouldn't cause much harm if he did contract it.

"What harm would one virus cause? Sure it's only the people that are over 60 or have underlying health conditions that really need to worry? How wrong I was!" he said, as he detailed the symptoms he experienced.

"It started off with severe joint pain to the extent it felt like there were razor blades in my kneecaps and in my shoulders - everything ached," he explained.

"Then came the fevers, the chills, waking up in the middle of the night drenched as if I walked out of the shower. Needing to go to the toilet but knowing if I did the chill outside the bed would cause me to shiver so violently I would nearly vomit.

"Then came the thumping headaches, stabbing pains in my chest and above my left eye and my lower back, the burning cramps in my stomach and then the tightness in my lungs."

He said his "body was crying for oxygen leading me to call for an ambulance" and after his oxygen levels dropped, he had to be admitted to the South West Acute Hospital's Covid suite.

He said the virus had moved to my lungs "causing bilateral pneumonia".

Two long nights alone in a hospital ward followed.

"It's one thing fighting a hidden illness but see when you are locked in a room, alone, no loved one in sight, it's hard," he said.

"Life will be survival, slowly moving, slowly sitting, slowly eating. Breathing is a luxury, a privilege, never forget it, I pray I don't when I come through this.

"I have the anxiety of stooping down, losing my breath and struggling to regain control; of yawning and taking a gulp of air that causes my lungs to expand so much it hurts; a gust of wind comes through the house door and takes my breath away."

He also warned people not to pay heed to conspiracy theories.

"People have these theories about masks or notions that everyone needs to build up an immunity and how only the vulnerable or older generation need to be careful," he warned.

"If you don't care about yourself, care for the vulnerable. Why steal their chance of a healthy future for your own selfishness?"


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