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They took every precaution, but COVID-19 caught up with them

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Looking back, the Omicron variant got here on the worst attainable time.

College was in session, the vaccine booster marketing campaign was ramping up and the Christmas break was approaching. For a lot of, there was motive to hope that, after almost two years of concern and isolation, the tip of this pandemic was lastly inside attain.

However whereas it initially appeared that the new pressure, whereas extremely transmissible, packed a weaker punch than its predecessors, the sheer variety of infections quickly decimated the workforce and threatened to overwhelm hospitals

Public well being specialists inform us that is no time to let down our guard, and to proceed with masking, handwashing, self-screening, vaccinations and avoiding massive crowds. 

These individuals heeded that recommendation, however COVID-19 discovered them anyway. 

Gallant stated the worst factor about contracting COVID-19 over the vacations was understanding she’d handed it on to her youngsters. ‘I felt terrible,’ she stated. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Michelle Gallant, 33, had simply gotten her booster

Michelle Gallant, an academic assistant with the Ottawa-Carleton District College Board, believes she contracted COVID-19 within the classroom simply earlier than the Christmas break.

Gallant received her booster shot that Saturday and began feeling sick the next Tuesday night. Her youngsters, ages seven and 10, started experiencing the identical signs — hoarseness, congestion, aches, fever and chills — two days later.

They’re sick and Christmas was ruined due to me being at a high-risk job and bringing it dwelling.– Michelle Gallant

Gallant’s seven-year-old son, who has bronchial asthma, turned so in poor health that on Christmas Eve she needed to take him to hospital in Almonte, Ont., the place the household lives, for a shot of dexamethasone, a medicine generally used to deal with croup.

It was a daunting expertise for everybody concerned, she stated. However for Gallant, understanding she’d in all probability handed COVID-19 on to her children was the worst half.

“I felt awful. They’re sick and Christmas was ruined because of me being at a high-risk job and bringing it home.”

Final week, Gallant and her two youngsters had been nonetheless coughing, however on the mend.

Robin Browne, his spouse and their 20-year-old son examined optimistic for COVID-19, however his youthful son, 17, and 92-year-old father, who was staying with the household in December, didn’t. (Submitted by Robin Browne)

Robin Browne, 58, began feeling sick simply earlier than Christmas

Ottawa resident Robin Browne started feeling unwell the morning after he and his household received their booster photographs, two days earlier than Christmas.

At first he dismissed it as a facet impact of the vaccine — he’d had related reactions to earlier doses — however when the fatigue and congestion endured, he suspected COVID-19. A PCR take a look at proved him proper, although he says his signs had been comparatively gentle and manageable.

“That was really it. Once that passed I was good,” stated Browne, a communications skilled with the federal authorities.

His spouse and older son additionally examined optimistic, although his youthful son, 17, didn’t. Fortunately, neither did Browne’s 92-year-old father, who was staying with the household earlier than transferring right into a retirement dwelling.

“We needed to be extra careful, so that’s why we got tested,” Browne stated.

His father, who received his booster shot similtaneously the remainder of the household, had been staying within the basement, and Browne believes that separation, together with cautious masking and different precautions, helped forestall him from getting sick.

Dianne Brydon, 66, and her husband, 52, each contracted COVID-19 earlier than Christmas. ‘No one’s protected from this one,’ Brydon stated of the Omicron variant. (Submitted by Dianne Brydon)

Dianne Brydon, 66, thought she was being cautious

Dianne Brydon is not positive the place she contracted COVID-19. It might have been at her curling membership, the place there had been some circumstances earlier in December, or it might need been when she was out Christmas purchasing a couple of days earlier than her signs appeared on Dec. 17.

“I was in and out of about 10 different stores, so it could have been anywhere,” she stated. “I thought I was being careful, but apparently not.”

The virus hit her fairly laborious, with a sore throat, chest congestion and a “massive, massive headache.”

“I was just down for the count for four days, in bed asleep, sleeping for 12, 14 hours at a time. Just amazing fatigue,” Brydon stated.

Do not get along with individuals pondering, oh they have to be protected, as a result of no person’s protected with this one.– Dianne Brydon

Her signs, which lingered for a full two weeks, included the tell-tale lack of style and odor, placing a damper on Christmas dinner

Brydon’s husband, 52, fell in poor health about two days after she did, although his signs additionally included a nagging cough.

“He’s still losing sleep over it,” Brydon stated final week.

Each had been double-vaccinated and following all public well being protocols, together with masking and handwashing, after they turned in poor health, Brydon stated. They did not change into eligible for a booster till Dec. 13, and Brydon factors out that even when they’d had their third dose it would not have had time to take impact earlier than they had been contaminated.

Brydon is effectively conscious that many have suffered by means of worse than she and her husband, however she is involved about the opportunity of long-term well being results.

Her recommendation to others throughout the present Omicron wave is to be as cautious as attainable. 

“Don’t get together with people thinking, oh they must be safe, because nobody’s safe with this one.”

Matt Brown, 24, contracted COVID-19 in December after his girlfriend examined optimistic. He spent seven days in a voluntary isolation resort to keep away from passing the virus on to his roommates. (Submitted by Matt Brown)

Matt Brown, 24, says he received unfortunate

Matt Brown stated he began feeling a bit “off” round Dec. 13, and determined to go for a PCR take a look at a couple of days later. His girlfriend had already taken a speedy take a look at that was optimistic for COVID-19, so when he received his personal optimistic end result a pair days later, Brown wasn’t too shocked.

His signs — aches and pains, a light headache and slight cough — subsided after just some days. Brown attributes his speedy restoration to his youth and bodily health, and to the truth that he was double-vaccinated.

“Thank God, because I probably would have been a lot sicker than I was,” stated Brown, who was not eligible for a booster shot earlier than he fell in poor health.

I assumed that life was heading again in the direction of normalcy, and clearly we received unfortunate.– Matt Brown

As a result of Brown shares a home in Ottawa’s central Glebe neighbourhood with 5 roommates, he determined to examine himself into one of many voluntary isolation centres supplied by the town, and spent the subsequent seven days on the Vacation Inn Categorical on King Edward Avenue.

Solely one in every of Brown’s roommates — the one with a bed room on the identical flooring as him — additionally examined optimistic for COVID-19. The opposite 4 didn’t.

“So I’m really confused as to how we got it and they didn’t,” stated Brown, who simply started a brand new job as an government gross sales recruiter.

“I complied with everything, so I assumed that life was heading back toward normalcy, and obviously we got unlucky.”

Elizabeth Hay rides one in every of her horses in more healthy occasions. Regardless of taking each precaution, Hay got here down with COVID-19 signs in early January. She’s nonetheless recovering. (Submitted by Elizabeth Hay)

Elizabeth Hay, 64, wears two masks in all places she goes

Former CBC producer Elizabeth Hay thought she was doing the whole lot proper. She wears two masks in all places she goes, is “religious” about handwashing, and even showers and adjustments her garments when she will get dwelling from an errand.

Hay and her accomplice, 75, have been dwelling in digital isolation on their interest farm close to Carleton Place, Ont.

Nonetheless, on the primary Monday of the brand new 12 months, Hay was out strolling her canine when she began feeling unwell. As a result of she’d been taking such cautious precautions, she chalked it as much as normal fatigue, the chilly or her age — something however COVID-19.

When she received dwelling she introduced the horses in, had supper and went to mattress. She wakened round 2 a.m. with a “massive headache” and fever, she stated.

I believed I used to be doing the whole lot I probably might.– Elizabeth Hay

“I couldn’t even comprehend that it could be COVID,” Hay stated. She took a Tylenol and went again to sleep.

“By next morning I was in full shakes, fever, not coughing but pretty uncomfortable, and weak as could be,” she stated.

Hay’s accomplice had his booster shot on Christmas Eve, however as a result of she’d been immunized towards pneumonia earlier that month, Hay wasn’t but eligible for hers.

WATCH | Infectious illness professional explains why there’ll proceed to be variants:

How will this pandemic finish?

Dr. Christopher Mody, of the College of Calgary’s Division of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Illnesses, says that till we cease the virus that causes COVID-19 from mutating, there’ll proceed to be variants. The answer? “We need to get people vaccinated,” he says. 6:05

Hay stated other than a fast journey to Canadian Tire and the grocery retailer, she’s had zero contact with anybody.

“This variant just seems to be so aggressive. I don’t think you have to have much contact to get it.”

As sick as she’s been, Hay is aware of the result might have been a lot worse.

“If I caught it and had not been vaccinated, I could be holding up a bed in ICU,” she stated.

Hay stated any longer, she’ll order her groceries and different requirements on-line and have them delivered. She advises individuals to stay diligent. 

“I thought I was doing everything I possibly could.”

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