If it looks like a cold, feels like a cold, it might be Covid.

It was for me

by Rick Johansen

Flying to Canada two weeks ago, it was hard to avoid the sound of coughs and sneezes from fellow passengers. It’s very common because there are few less healthy places to be than on an aircraft, tightly grouped with hundreds of other people and breathing recycled air for the entire flight. No wonder, then, that first my partner and then your humble blogger contracted annoying colds. Halfway through the holiday, we flew from Ottawa to Vancouver and for the whole duration of the flight my nose was dripping like – and I am sorry if you are eating now – a tap. I also had an irritating cough, as well as some aches and pains and breathlessness. But we British, we carry on, don’t we? A cold was never going to stop me enjoying our break. But then my relatives became sick, too, and tests soon revealed a grisly truth. We had Covid-19.

In truth, we did wonder if our colds might be Covid, since all the symptoms for the latest variant are basically the same as having a cold. But we don’t carry test kits around with us so we just carried on as normal, doing normal stuff in Ottawa and Vancouver while unknowingly making other people ill. And although the positive test came late in the day, we still carried on doing the things we wanted to do, albeit all masked up, but arguably knowingly irresponsibly and selfishly did the things we wanted to do, including flying home with likely Covid. Well, what would you do?

There is no doubt that I felt pangs of guilt on today’s flight back to London and the first thing I did was to test for Covid on one of the few remaining kits we have left. I have a powerful hacking cough which suggested to me I may infected the best part of 400 people, but, to my astonishment, the test was negative. Not a hint of a second line on the kit. Phew. But we are not the only ones.

I could name countless friends who have recently returned from holiday with stinking colds, some so debilitating they have been confined to bed. Some tested and found they were positive, others, for whatever reason, didn’t test and assumed they’d caught colds, as we had. And maybe they were just colds, but I’ll wager that most of them weren’t and aren’t.

It’s certainly worth thinking when you go away on a trip abroad, because as we enter the virus season, this will become the norm, if it isn’t already. And as we spend more time indoors, infection numbers will rapidly increase. For most of us, Omicron isn’t a killer but for some it will be and even fit people can be hit for six. Who knows how cases of long Covid will pan out?

It’s big shit, especially if you end up somewhere like America without medical insurance. What if you get a particularly heavy Covid hit? I know what I’d do: I’d struggle home if the law didn’t prevent me from so doing. What if you’re that sick you can’t make it back at all?

Hopefully, I’ve had my latest Covid dalliance at a good time and I’ll manage to avoid another dose this winter. But knowing what I now know, I’d be a little concerned about our Covid winter. I fear some special events could be well and truly buggered up.

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