Sick of ignorance

BC Pires -
BC Pires -


Part I of III to be continued tomorrow and concluded on Monday

Read Part II here: PART II

LATE ON the night of August 20, in London, I got sick. Early the next morning, two self-administered rapid lateral flow antigen tests confirmed I had the covid19 virus.

I’ve seen very many very sobering sights, including my two-year-old son vomiting a gallon of his own blood all over me, but mine ran cold when, in three minutes, a second red line came up on the pregnancy-test-like at-home test. The second test confirmed what I already knew.

Very high fever, mind-numbing, fear-inducing headaches, a raw sore throat and body-racking muscular pain had been my overnight companions. All of them stayed with me for a solid week. (I never lost my sense of smell or taste, thank heaven, Small Mercies Department).

Most open-minded, non-religious, science-respecting people, who consider the virus and not its rightwing political interpretations, would react the same, I suspect: in the first three or four days, you spend all the time you are awake worrying you will become that freak statistic, reported in the Daily Mail in June: two per cent of delta-variant deaths had been fully vaccinated.

For three days I was leaning towards the two per cent in my mind.

I was that unwell, though I told no one. (It made no sense to worry my family, too.)

Thank science for the AstraZeneca vaccine, without which all the writing you might have read from me today might have been contained on my headstone.

For ten days I lay in a small room alone, and, far worse than the worry about my own possible mortality and certain significant physical discomfort was the mental anguish that I might have gone quite-o quite-o London to infect my children.

To maximise the anxiety, my son’s girlfriend, whose immunity is compromised, was in the same tiny flat for 72 hours after I got sick. Until she went, I left the room only when I was certain she was behind another closed door. My son or daughter put bowls of soup at my door and hid in the kitchen. Three hundred disinfectant wipes vanished in a week, sanitising everything I touched in the bathroom. Everyone showered wearing masks.

For ten days, I waved good morning and good night at my children standing at the front door. To die of an entirely avoidable cause – or one that would be, if ignorant people didn’t think they were clever – would have been bad enough. To kill my children would have made whatever life I had afterwards worth nothing. They’d only had their second shots in mid-August, and I clearly had not reached full immunity although I was fully vaccinated in mid-May!

I was made as sick as I have ever been – and I’ve had dengue, food poisoning and acute appendicitis – by the ignorance of the anti-vaxxers and covid-deniers.

On September 3, hoping to leave London earlier, and encouraged by passing three successive rapid flow tests, I took a more sensitive PCR test at a National Health Service pop-up centre.

Overnight, my test came back positive. Though I was no longer contagious, the virus might continue to show for 90 days after initial infection. Until I passed a fit-to-fly PCR test on Monday and got on the plane on Tuesday, I was unsure I would ever be able to leave.

Especially with another lockdown shimmering on the English horizon.

Eight days after I first landed, on July 19, with great political fanfares of the own-trumpet variety, and enough gumption to label their irresponsibility as “Freedom Day,” the Vote Leave Enoch Powell Tribute Act Government of England lifted all restrictions designed to stop the spread of the virus.

And it obliged.

Transport for London required face masks as a condition of conveyance, but, without central government backing, mask-wearing quickly dropped from almost 100 per cent to four-in-ten. On a packed bus towards the airport on Tuesday, one other person wore a mask.

With such a cavalier official disregard for even reducing the spread of the virus, the only wonder is that it took so long for me to get it.

You’re now at the point I was on the morning of August 20.

BC Pires was literally sick of ignorance and is now figuratively sick and tired of it. Look out for Part II, NHS test, trace and torture in Saturday’s Newsday


"Sick of ignorance"

More in this section