One of the defining aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is that depending on personal circumstances, people have suffered very different impacts from Covid restrictions. Jessica Murray reports for us on those in the UK who are still isolated and shielding:
Sarah Spoor and her two adult sons have spent the past 14 months shielding in a one-bedroom apartment, with no garden, in west London. Her youngest sleeps in the bedroom, his brother has a pull-out bed in the kitchen, while Spoor takes the living room in another fold-out bed.
All three have complex medical conditions that leave them vulnerable to Covid, and despite the strain of living in such close quarters, they don’t feel safe leaving home any time soon.
“If we catch it, we die; it’s that simple. In the 14 months, I have probably been out about four times, and that’s usually in some dire emergency,” said Spoor, who provides round-the-clock care for her sons, 20 and 24, after their medical team decided it was too risky for their usual carers to continue visiting.
“We’re having to sleep in shifts. I’m probably having three to four hours’ broken sleep a day. It’s like a wartime situation. All we’re doing is just surviving and I’m not unique; that’s what other carers are doing.”
Spoor said she has looked on in horror as people have flooded to shops, outdoor bars and restaurants, as part of lockdown easing last week, even while case rates remain high in some parts of the country and surge testing is under way for variants.
“It’s horrific, the pandemic is not over, where did anyone get that idea from? The whole thing is madness. I just look longingly at Taiwan, China, New Zealand, Australia [where cases are low or nonexistent], I wish we could just ship out there for a couple of years.”
The family has yet to be vaccinated as their medical conditions, which include type 1 diabetes, adrenal insufficiency, pernicious anemia and thyroid failure, mean they are likely to experience a severe reaction leading to hospital admission, and they are concerned about the risk of catching Covid in hospital when cases are still prevalent.
Read more of Jessica Murray’s report here: ‘If we catch Covid, we die’: UK shielders reflect on still feeling unsafe