Oxfordshire firefighter’s brush with COVID-19 leads him to warn others to follow government's safety guidance

With the number of COVID cases on the rise in Oxford the message from one Oxfordshire firefighter who had the virus back in the spring is very clear – do everything you can to avoid catching it.

By Matt Elofson
Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 4:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 4:50 pm

Watch Manager Kevin Morgan, 35 from Chinnor has been a firefighter for 15 years and now manages a team that undertakes safety visits to people’s homes to make sure they are as secure against fire and other perils as possible. He also still often attends fires and other incidents.

The father of two young children had COVID-19 back in May along with his wife is warning people in Oxford and the surrounding area against being complacent.

He said: “This is not something you want any involvement with if you can avoid it. I had moderate symptoms – but it was not a pleasant time in my life. My advice is that you should do everything you possibly can to avoid being a position in which you might contract COVID-19.

“I had the symptoms of loss and taste and smell and started to feel unwell. I just didn’t feel right. I was very lethargic and doing even the most simple things felt like a very big effort. I had several days of just being in bed. Getting up to go to the bathroom or to get a drink was a real effort.

“It took more than a week to get back to some sort of normality. By June I was able to go back to work– but even then towards the end of the day I was feeling a lot more tired than I would normally.

“My wife had the persistent cough that is a well known COVID-19 symptom. This was followed by similar symptoms to the ones I had. She’s currently pregnant and so that was also a worry and we are glad that everything has turned out OK.

“The worry is another aspect of all this. Although my symptoms proved to be moderate, while I was suffering from them there’s a constant concern that this is only the start and it could all get much worse. Everybody knows about people ending up in hospital or on ventilators.

Oxfordshire Firefighter Kevin Morgan, aged 35 who had the virus back in the spring, is urging people to follow the government's guidance on COVID-19 (Photo from Oxfordshire County Council)

“Being of mixed race I was also aware that the virus seems to impact more of people from BAME backgrounds.

“I know that at the moment there seems to be a rise in cases among people aged between 18 and 30 in Oxford.

"I would say to people in that age group and everyone else - do everything you can not to put yourself in this position.

"Listen to the advice. The doctors and scientists are giving out this advice for a very good reason – washing your hands and keeping social distancing in mind is what gives you the best chance of avoiding this virus.

“Consider all those people who have died or whose lives have been really changed by this and think twice before you relax.

"As a firefighter I have to regularly pass fitness tests and so consider myself fit. Even with that level of fitness this was a tough experience. This virus doesn’t discriminate between those that are fit and healthy and those who are not. Even if you get away with a mild version of the virus you may pass it on to someone who would suffer a great deal more. This is everyone’s responsibility.”

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s director for public health said: “Even though Kevin and his wife had moderate cases of this virus they are very clear in saying that it is best that you do everything to avoid contracting it and passing it on to others.

“Let’s contain this virus in Oxfordshire and #stopthespread. This is literally in our own hands. Keep your distance from others, wear a mask and make sure you wash your hands. Kevin and those who have had COVID-19 all say the same thing – it is a very unpleasant experience. Do all you can to avoid it."