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Covid: Ardrossan care worker caught virus twice and fears it could happen again

A Scottish care worker has revealed how she caught Covid twice within seven months.

Michelle Lamont, from Ardrossan in North Ayrshire, tested positive for the virus in April 2020. But the 50-year-old was “stunned” when routine testing picked up the infection again in November. After becoming ill for a second time, she is now concerned about the possibility of suffering the debilitating symptoms again. Walking her dog along the beach at Saltcoats, Ms Lamont shared her fears with BBC Scotland’s The Nine programme. She said: “I was devastated when I tested positive for the first time,” she says. “If I can get it twice, what’s to say I can’t get it a third time? That plays on my mind.”

‘Never felt so ill’

The first time around, Ms Lamont was exhausted and did not return to work for five weeks. “It was just horrible. I’ve never felt so ill in my life,” she said. “I had a slight cough and a temperature but the headache was the worst. It was like a migraine, it just didn’t go. The palpitations were really hard because it felt like a weight on my chest. “It was just a horrible feeling. I had no focus – I couldn’t even watch television or listen to music and I had no appetite.” The mother-of-three said she worried more for her family than for herself. She said: “My oldest daughter, Courtnay, wore PPE and she looked after me. “I was scared. You’re just lying thinking what if I’ve given this to my family? I’ve got vulnerable family members as well and I was thinking I’d never forgive myself.” After several months of negative PCR tests and feeling well again, it was “an absolute shock” to be told of another positive result. “I remember I got tested on a Friday. I felt ok and I had no symptoms at all,” she said. “On the Saturday at about 19:00, Public Health Scotland phoned me and said sorry, but you’re positive. “I burst out crying because I thought – I can’t go through that again.” Michelle was in the middle of preparing dinner for the family and getting ready for work but had to immediately go back into self-isolation.

‘It can happen again’

After several days, Michelle gradually became unwell again. She said: “The headache was there and it wouldn’t go this time. I had the temperature, the fatigue and the palpitations came back. This time it lasted around 10 days.” She now wants other people to know that it is possible to be re-infected. “I didn’t realise it could happen again and that’s with taking all the right precautions. My doctor, she was stunned. People are in denial that it can happen again. They look at you as if you’re daft. They don’t believe you but yes, it can.” Ms Lamont says she feels lucky to be well again and is looking forward to getting some normality back. She said: “I just want an end to this, like everyone else. If people follow the rules, I’m very hopeful.”

Can you catch Covid again?

Experts warn some people do catch Covid-19 again – and can infect others. A recent study led by Public Health England (PHE) found that most people who have had Covid-19 are protected from catching it again for at least five months. Past infection was linked to around an 83% lower risk of getting the virus, compared with those who had never had Covid-19, scientists found. However, the new coronavirus has not been around long enough to know a lot about how long immunity lasts. PHE’s ongoing study on immunity in healthcare workers found 44 potential re-infections in a group of 6,614 people who had previously had the virus. Researchers conclude reinfection is uncommon but still possible and say people must continue to follow current guidance, whether they have had antibodies or not. Scientists from Hong Kong recently reported on the case of a young, healthy man who recovered from a bout of Covid-19 only to be re-infected more than four months later. Using genome sequencing of the virus, they could prove he caught it twice because the virus strains were different. Asked if it was aware of any cases of re-infection, Public Health Scotland said it was looking at possible Covid-19 reinfection and planned to publish a report in due course. A spokesman added: “It is too soon to draw any conclusions as to what the findings of this re

port will be.”