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Irish language activist Linda Ervine fears people are unknowingly spreading coronavirus following phone diagnosis

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Irish language activist Linda Ervine. Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Irish language activist Linda Ervine. Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Irish language activist Linda Ervine. Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Prominent Irish language activist Linda Ervine has spoken of her fears of coronavirus spreading due to cases going undiagnosed because many people are only displaying mild symptoms.

She was speaking after being diagnosed with Covid-19 "over the phone" by her GP after coming into contact with a positive case and feeling unwell.

Mrs Ervine, the sister-in-law of the late PUP leader David Ervine, said her ordeal began on March 24, when she woke up with a temperature, nausea, diarrhoea and a headache.

"The thing is it didn't last very long. I felt a bit off-colour for a few days, didn't have much appetite, but it wasn't anything terrible - I just wasn't feeling 100%," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"After a few days I had a bit of a headache and a sore throat, but nothing too serious and I was able to work away from home. At the time I didn't think it was coronavirus, but then my cousin who I had been with five days before was diagnosed with coronavirus, she's a social worker and her whole office tested positive.

"Some of her symptoms were like mine and she said some of those in her office displayed the same symptoms I did."

It was at this point Mrs Ervine contacted her GP and relayed her symptoms over the phone, before being told in all likelihood she did indeed have the virus.

The fear of having it actually seems to be worse than the symptoms I've experienced, and I suppose that's the same for a lot of people

"My GP was very helpful, she said she had been receiving a lot of reports of people with my symptoms and these aren't the common ones reported in the media," she said.

Mrs Ervine said she felt fine until the following Monday when her symptoms returned, only this time she was feeling very weak.

"I basically had to crawl into bed, but again it didn't last long - a bit of a sore throat and head. That's how it's been, off and on. But then on Saturday night I just took pains everywhere and I have since been told that's a good sign, that's your body fighting it," she said.

"Again, I woke up in Easter Sunday morning feeling fine and I've been fine since, so I'm hoping that's it. I'm curious as to how long this thing goes on for and I think a lot of people are in the same boat - not knowing they have it and just feeling a bit under the weather, but then spreading it to others who might not be so lucky."

The Belfast woman, who runs an Irish language programme in east Belfast, said the strangest thing about her experience is the reoccurance of symptoms, which she said could lead people to thinking they have recovered and coming out of self-isolation, putting others at risk.

I would be a bit sceptical too about the government saying to self-isolate for seven days, because for me it's been three weeks

"The fear of having it actually seems to be worse than the symptoms I've experienced, and I suppose that's the same for a lot of people," she said.

"I think people with mild symptoms should be tested if the authorities want to contain the spread, because definitely people will have no idea at all that they have it and then they will pass it on to others. It seems to come over you in waves, so I would be worried you might think it has passed when it hasn't.

"I would be a bit sceptical too about the government saying to self-isolate for seven days, because for me it's been three weeks. Then you start thinking: did I have it, or didn't I? Or is it something else? I think it's just the unknown of it."

Belfast Telegraph


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