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By Latrishka Thomas

From uncontrollable coughing and shortness of breath, to vomiting blood and anxiety attacks, former Covid patients have revealed their experiences battling the potentially deadly illness.

And, speaking on Observer Radio’s Big Issues show, the message was clear – residents should take every precaution to protect themselves against the coronavirus.

Four people, three with links to Antigua and Barbuda, were guests on the weekly programme yesterday.

“I want to tell people it is not a joke. It is a lonely sickness because when you are there it is you alone… people need to take it seriously,” June Fortune, a coronavirus patient who has been quarantined in Antigua, told Observer.

Fortune said that she arrived in Antigua on the last flight from New York before the airport was closed. About two days later, she started experiencing some of the virus’s symptoms.

She said it became so severe she started vomiting blood and “could hardly move”.

Victor Tuckette, who lives in New York but is originally from Trinidad, has been left with kidney issues as a result of the illness.

“I almost gave up from all the pain,” he said. But he reassured others adding, “it’s a very trying time but place your hope in God and you will make it through.”

Both Fortune and Tuckette said that initially their headaches were mistaken for high blood pressure. They urged others to be vigilant to Covid-19’s symptoms.

Fortune, the only one of the four speaking yesterday to be treated for the illness in Antigua, said the outcome could have been very different.

Georgia resident Jessica Edwards, who is of Antiguan descent, described her experience as “very, very hard”.

She explained that support from family, albeit not physically, is extremely important to a Covid-19 patient.

“I had anxiety attacks because you are left there alone for so long and my breathing got really bad at night. So I am very thankful for my family, friends,” she said.

Edwards added, “when that virus gets you it takes a hold of you. It forces you to be able to face your mortality and understand that something that you can’t see can really take you out.”

Well-known businessman and long-term Antiguan resident Derek Barrett, who is still in the Dominican Republic where he fell ill, also spoke of his experiences.

The developer and realtor said his symptoms started with a headache, then migrated to aches and pains that were so bad “if I rolled over in my sleep, they woke me up”.

But he said he was able to stem the effects to his chest with over-the-counter medicine.

“I made a point to use Listerine four, five times a day, gargling with it in the hope that if the thing was in my throat I could stop it from going into my lungs,” he shared.

All four recovered patients credited support from loved ones – and a higher power – with helping them back on their feet.

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