A cancer patient living in isolation is pleading with the lockdown rule-breakers to consider their actions during the coronavirus pandemic – and think about how it may affect vulnerable people like him.
Peter Herbert has been in complete isolation at the Royal Stoke University Hospital following treatment for a bone infection.
The dad-of-two and foster parent-of-three was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia in September – and is now classed as a vulnerable person during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 55-year-old has been on a four-month clinical trial with new medication and responding well. But the bone infection needed urgent treatment.
Before his diagnosis, Peter swam five times a week, went to the gym and was running two businesses – but he has spent the past week staring at the same four hospital walls.
He said: “There are all sorts of stories online that people are not taking coronavirus and social distancing seriously, and I’ve been thinking about what I would be coming out to. What’s really going on out there?
“It’s not so much a fear, but I just wonder how bad things are and how it will affect me. Are people being sensible?
“It’s really irresponsible of people to not social distance. I know it’s hard when the sun is shining, and I would wish to be out in it – but actually, you’ve just got to keep people safe.
“Children have been in the streets and people are gathering at parties – and yet this pandemic is something we need to take seriously. People need to make some difficult decisions for themselves to protect others.
“You find that, unless it’s affecting someone directly, people don’t give it much further thought unless they can empathise with it.”
Peter has been treated with intravenous antibiotics for the past week. He’s been catching up on Netflix and keeping in touch with his daughter through Facebook. He has now been discharged, although he will have to spend 12 weeks in self-isolation at his Newcastle home.
He added: “My family have been in isolation for a few weeks to protect me when I come back.
“I was in a cocoon of safety at the hospital, and the cancer ward is essentially in lockdown to protect us. As boring as it was, I felt incredibly safe.
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“The atmosphere is pretty good in the hospital and everyone is working hard. They’re trying to free up spaces as they expect the worst, and people are being discharged when they are able to be.
“My ward has been segregated from the rest of the hospital. The workers are only allowed in this ward, and not other parts of the hospital.
“It’s not a doom and gloom atmosphere and the workers are doing their job really well. Everyone is positive – they’re professionals and doing what they’ve been trained to do. I’ve got nothing but admiration for the NHS staff.”