Laois TV presenter Claire Byrne has opened up about the ‘guilt’, ‘shock’ and ‘worry’ that she felt following her positive Covid-19 test at the weekend.
The RTE One TV host, speaking from her shed via video link on her own show, Claire Byrne Live, gave a very detailed account of how what she thought was a head-cold quickly turned into something far more sinister.
The Mountrath mother of three appeared in the same shed last week as she was in self isolation while awaiting a test for the Coronavirus.
Looking back, she explained how she felt.
She said: “I had a head cold last week and I suspected I was heading into chest infection territory. But what threw me was that I had no temperature at any stage and I checked it three times a day, every day and there was never a spike.
“So at that point last week I thought it was a chest infection or a head cold – nothing more.
“(But as the week went on) The cough that I had became much more ingrained, it was a productive cough. It was very hard to get rid of it or to deal with it.
“I had the aching limbs, the very much aching limbs, tiredness, real fatigue – and I have three children here so you can’t really succumb to that.
“The worst moment for me was for three successive nights I was in bed with that hacking cough and I began to notice that I was becoming breathless and I started to worry about that.
“It was all in the upper respiratory area, it wasn’t down in my chest, I was quite congested.
“But I was definitely getting to the point where I was struggling for breath. It didn’t get so severe that I felt I needed to call an ambulance but I know for some people that would be very distressing.
“For me it wasn’t that bad but it was definitely an issue so when I hear of shortness of breath being a symptom I for sure experienced that.”
On Saturday, Claire received the news that she had tested positive for the virus and this is when the guilt kicked in.
She said: “So then I got the result and and I can’t tell you what that is like – it is so shocking.
“Particularly when you don’t expect it and I had completely convinced myself at that point that it was just a chest infection.
“And then I went into guilt mode because I felt: ‘How many people have I given this to?’
“That was my big concern. Obviously I had been self-isolating for quite some time and had been following all of the guidelines but there’s always that thought in the back of your mind.
“Before I had symptoms, was I giving this condition to other people and who were those people? You’re going through the list.
“So I felt guilty, I felt shocked and I felt worried. I sat down once I had processed a little bit and I began to make my contact list out.
“I wrote down all the people who I had spoken to for more than 15 minutes who had been closer than two metres to me.”
Claire was then contacted by the HSE who explained her diagnosis and told her what she needed to do next in terms of self isolation.
Then she received a call from the people dealing with contact tracing. A member of the Defence Forces contacted her to get her to list all of the people she had been in contact with since her first symptom.
Claire said: “They need names and they need phone numbers too.
“So if you are in that position and you get a positive Covid-19 test, it is a good idea to sit down and have all that to hand.”
Thankfully, Claire says she is now over the worst of the symptoms but she still feels guilty.
She said: “I think I’m through the worst of it. The shortness of breath is gone and the day before yesterday, the aching in my limbs abated.
“But I still feel quite guilty about it. I feel guilty about the people on my contact list who had to be told they were in touch with somebody who is a confirmed positive case.
“But I suppose many of us are going to go through that experience and that is just part of it.”