Co Down woman tells of sudden deterioration after contracting Covid-19

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Artist and business woman Aly Harte, from Cultra, Co Down. She went from hiking to extreme fatigue within days after contracting Covid-19. Photo: PA
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Rebecca Black, PA

A Co Down woman has spoken of her sudden deterioration after contracting Covid-19 and urged others to be diligent in protecting themselves and their families.

Aly Harte (37) said she went from hiking to extreme fatigue within days.

Four weeks ago, the business woman and artist noticed a strange taste in her mouth, and went for a Covid-19 test.

“I found out I was positive and it just went downhill from there,” she said.

“Within 48 hours my symptoms went from a bad taste in my mouth to me being in bed and unable to get up.”

Ms Harte visited A&E twice when she was ill after her symptoms became severe.

“I couldn’t keep a conversation and my heart was quite bad so I went to the Mater Hospital for the Covid centre, and they checked my stats,” she said.

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“Thankfully it wasn’t anything other than Covid and my heart was dealing quite well with it. My oxygen levels were ok, I just had overwhelming fatigue, drained of energy. I couldn’t actually keep my head up.

“It was like the flu times ten, and every day it changed so the headache was one day, spiking temperatures was another day, this real heaviness like someone was sitting on my chest. It felt so unknown.

“Every day for seven days was brutal but I felt very well looked after between the GP and A&E.”

Artist and business woman Aly Harte, from Cultra near Holywood in Co Down. Photo: PA

Ms Harte described not being able to cuddle her youngest son as one of the most challenging parts of isolating.

“We have three boys, I have a business, and overnight we just had to adapt,” she said.

“I stayed in the front room and any time I went into the kitchen or food was brought up to me and left at the door, we had to disinfect. I had one bathroom, the rest of the family had another bathroom.

“Our youngest is four so he found it the most difficult because of hugs.

“Sometimes in the middle of the night he would want to come in and was rapping on the door, so that was another element of that kind of panic.

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“But generally they all coped very well and thankfully didn’t have any symptoms.”

Ms Harte runs online workshops which had to be postponed for four weeks, including a children’s birthday party, which she said as a mum she found the most upsetting because of how excited the children had been for it.

She resumed the online workshops at the end of last week, but took the precaution of including getting plenty of rest before it.

Stay protected

Ms Harte has urged people to be diligent in protecting themselves, and emphasised that even though she has a minor underlying heart condition she was shocked when she found out she had tested positive.

Four weeks later, she said she still gets that out of breath feeling.

“There is still a lot unknown about the virus but full recovery can take as long as six months, and with my heart condition I have been referred to cardiology to check in case of any damage from Covid,” she said.

“I am 37, I was hiking the day before and I was cycling the day before that on my own, strong, healthy and I was knocked down.

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“The boys are in school but we have hand sanitiser everywhere, my staff who work for me work from home.

“Yes, I have an underlying condition but my heart condition is minor so I would urge people to be diligent and just to really think of their families.

“For me the panic was that my mum is in our bubble and she is high risk because she is older.

“When I was in A&E I couldn’t even keep my head up, and I thought, this is real, this is very real.”

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