Mayor and wife have coronavirus complications

Councillor Arthur Coote, the mayor of Saffron Walden. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO.

Councillor Arthur Coote, the mayor of Saffron Walden. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO. - Credit: Archant

The Mayor of Saffron Walden is being treated for complications after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

Arthur Coote, R4U councillor at Uttlesford District Council, and his wife Elaine - who has asthma - have both been treated for pneumonia after self-isolating about 10-13 days ago with symptoms of COVID-19.

The 71-year-old said the symptoms have gotten “worse and worse” and paramedics spent hours at their home in Saffron Walden treating their infected lungs.

Cllr Coote first started suffering from a “nasty cough” and cold symptoms and his wife a “very high temperature”.

Then, at the beginning of this week he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and pneumonia with complications known as pleurisy relating to the virus.

“They prescribed antibiotics and strong painkillers,” Cllr Coote said, adding: “It’s the worst I have felt in 71 years.”

Cllr Coote has had bird flu, swine flu and “most other viruses” which have caused epidemics for the past 65 years, but he said none of them were like COVID-19.

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“It’s not like an ordinary Asian flu that we had in the ‘60s, or other flus we had.

“Last weekend, I was lying on my bed and I thought if this is the time to be on to whatever is to come, then let it come on, because it was really grim.”

Prior to falling ill, he and his wife were looking after their grandchildren, but had to ring their daughter who works at the Katerine Semar school in Saffron Walden and tell her they were not feeling well.

“On Saturday, we both started to feel worse. We were both feeling grim, we just stayed in that weekend. On Monday and Tuesday we were feeling even worse, a really bad cold, my cough got bitter and harsher, but Saturday the temperature was sky high.

“On Sunday I was really bad and that is when I rang the hospital and they treated me online. They said I definitely got the virus and pneumonia.”

Cllr Coote said he has been feeling “debilitated”. He said he can’t move his body, and when he coughs his whole back hurts. Even getting up is an effort because of the very high temperature and the “never-ending” cough.

“It’s hard. I can’t imagine how those who suffer from asthma feel, as my wife has it.”

He says Elaine was affected more by coronavirus because of her asthma. Her breathing was “not great”, so Cllr Coote had to call an ambulance on Wednesday. He praised the quick response of the emergency services, as he said paramedics arrived at his home in 25-30 minutes.

They were at their home in Saffron Walden for three hours and concluded the virus affected her lungs and contributed to lung infection – so she was put on antibiotics.

According to Cllr Coote: “They [the antibiotics] reacted to the virus in the wrong way, unfortunately.”

The family was advised to stay home, because the hospital is “full of germs”.

But self-isolation at home for two weeks has been very hard for Cllr Coote, who said he had never been contained like this before, and “it’s a bit like being in a self-imposed prison”: “I just feel so isolated, we just feel so completely away from the world and reality.”

He tries to keep positive, but is disappointed at what seems to be a “written-off” year: “We have to write off the whole of 2020. My family loves holidays. My wife and I travel the country, somewhere in the UK, but the whole of 2020 is written off.

“We are not going to see the sea, we are not going on holiday, I think we are quite deflated, what is 2020 going to be about?

“It feels there is so little to look forward to. We look ahead of this and think perhaps we are going to be allowed to come out in three months.”

But he keeps his morale high by talking to his friends and making light-hearted jokes about how he has been feeling: “I talked to loads of my friends and it feels like one of those hangovers where we have drunk too much and it never goes away”, he said.

Cllr Coote also asked the Reporter to publish the following advice: “Stay in and do as everybody tells you. Everyone should be very, very careful, it is not something that should be laughed at. Don’t believe it’s just a cold, it’s not like anything I have had, it’s far worse. Don’t believe you are immune to it, you are not!”