Mum who did ‘everything to follow the rules’ while ill speaks of anger over Dominic Cummings
PUBLISHED: 22:43 25 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:27 26 May 2020
A mum who battled possible coronavirus at home alongside her husband while trying to care for their young child has spoken of her anger at Dominic Cummings’ actions during lockdown.
Abigail Doherty and husband Josh, from Bury St Edmunds, came down with Covid-19 symptoms in April and took weeks to fully recover.
While poorly at home, they also cared for their four-year-old daughter, Lorelai, as they stuck to the government’s lockdown restrictions and “stay at home” message.
The prime minister’s top advisor is facing calls to resign after travelling 260 miles to County Durham from London to be near family for childcare reasons after his wife developed Covid-19 symptoms.
In his press conference, he also revealed he had driven about 30 miles from his family’s farm to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight and readiness to drive back to London.
Abigail, a former A&E nursing assistant, said his statement made her even “angrier” and raised further issues, such as the test drive while his eyes were affected.
She said: “I feel there’s double standards. My husband and I did everything to follow the rules that we were told.
“I looked through the guidelines to find out if I could send our daughter somewhere where she could be looked after much better than what my husband and I could do for her.
“There was a part of the guidance that said you were allowed to travel during lockdown to provide care to a vulnerable person, but we took that to mean that a healthy person could go out during lockdown to provide care to somebody else who is vulnerable but healthy, ie a carer.
“At no point did it cross our minds that it included people who are infected or that the care for a vulnerable person included our own child going to a relative’s while we were unwell.
“We were given strict instructions: all members of the household are to stay home. At no point did 111, our GP or government guidance tell us that our daughter could leave the house.”
She added: “The politicians are saying that he just did what any father would’ve done and commended him for it, so in their eyes are Josh and I bad parents because we didn’t take that risk?”
Abigail described how on April 7 she had been doing her essential shopping for the week when suddenly she felt like she had been “hit by a truck”.
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She managed to finish her shop and get in her car, but she was feeling worse and her brain was “foggy”. She got home and collapsed.
“My body felt weak, achy all over and completely exhausted. I wasn’t short of breath, but it felt like when I took a breath in it didn’t feel right, like that wasn’t enough, so I took deeper breaths instead which made my chest hurt. My head, chest and sinuses felt heavy, but I had no temperature or cough.”
Medical advice suggested she could have a urinary tract infection rather than Covid-19, as she had no cough or temperature - so was prescribed antibiotics to be on the safe side (her cough came on day three).
The next day Josh became unwell with suspected coronavirus.
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“He looked awful, drenched in sweat and very pale,” said Abigail. “I asked him how he felt and he said he wasn’t well at all, he had a headache and sore throat. He then coughed and it was really bad. I took his temperature - it was 39C.”
Abigail’s own temperature was 38.5C, so she phoned 111 again and was told everyone in the house should isolate for seven days from the onset of symptoms.
Lorelai had had a nasty cough at the end of March, which led Abigail to call for an ambulance. At the time she was told it was likely to be the start of a chest infection, but now questions whether it was coronavirus, as not all children have a temperature.
“At the time testing wasn’t offered unless you were admitted to hospital, so we also had the uncertainty of not knowing what we were fighting,” she said.
“I felt trapped. All of a sudden, I had a really unwell husband and I was feeling unwell myself, and our daughter was feeling much better than she was a fortnight before, but was still possibly infectious.”
She said she wanted her daughter to be properly looked after and not sat in front of the TV while mummy was asleep on the sofa trying to rest up.
“We set up FaceTime on her iPad so she could call her grandparents when she wanted to. This was also for her own safety. It’s horrible to think, but, if something had happened to both Josh and myself, at least she had a means to speak to people and get help - not an ambulance for us but more importantly so she got the care she needed.
“I was terrified that if something were to happen to both of us then she would have been all alone, but setting up the FaceTime and teaching her how to use it gave me some comfort.”
Abigail said that week she felt like an “awful” mum.
“It took all my strength to keep her clean, fed and safe, but nowhere near up to the normal standards I set myself. It was the most basic childcare I could provide for her.”
Abigail said she started feeling better after six days, but didn’t fully recover from the cough for two to three weeks, which was a similar recovery time frame for Josh.
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