A WOMAN from Cirencester with suspected coronavirus who spent 10 days in a locked ward at Great Western Hospital has praised the ‘brilliant’ work of medics at the hospital.

Alison Woolford was treated at GWH when Covid-19 symptoms that developed after a skiing trip in Italy turned into double pneumonia.

With both of her lungs infected and breathing almost impossible, the 57-year-old lost 14lbs in 14 days and relied on the care of Swindon doctors and nurses to get well again.

She said: “It was a very lonely and extremely scary time for me but everyone there was so friendly and caring and positive – the doctors, the nurses, the porters, the cleaners, everyone.

“Even though they were clearly struggling under a lot of pressure, they did a brilliant job in a challenging and constantly-changing situation where they didn’t really know what they were facing.

“No-one realised how bad it would get – or how quickly it would escalate – so they had to adapt as they went along, they were excellent.

Alison added: “This started when my husband and I came back from northern Italy on March 7. It wasn’t near the quarantined zones but I had a bit of a cough after we flew home.

“There was a temperature check at the airport before we flew home but no checks at all at Gatwick. I didn’t suspect a thing, I thought it was just a cold.

“I then developed a fever with a 39C temperature and called 111. They told me someone would come to test me, then government guidance changed and no-one came so I took paracetamol.

“It went downhill from there. I felt awful for days. The second time I called, they said I was having trouble breathing. I hadn’t even noticed.

“An ambulance came and these great paramedics assessed me and took me to GWH. The husband of the other couple we went to Italy with also fell ill later, but with milder symptoms.

“First, I went into the Neptune ward, which had been designated specially for Covid-19 patients and this was the first day it was in operation.

“Then I was more seriously ill than I thought so they put me in my own isolated ward with an oxygen mask and and IV drip, so I was attached to the bed.

“I hadn’t brought much with me because I thought I’d only be in overnight but I spent 10 days on my own, with food and drink pushed through the door, and wore a mask if doctors came in.

“No visitors were allowed, though my husband dropped a bag off at the door. A friend’s daughter was a nurse there, it was good to see a familiar face and be able to chat with her – she asked specifically if she could pop in to visit during her shifts.

“I watched Friends and The Big Bang Theory to keep my spirits up. I avoided the news because it made me anxious, so I didn’t really know what was going on.

“From what I was told by other people and what I heard when I arrived, it sounded apocalyptic, with people scared of being separated from their families.”

Alison did not test positive for coronavirus but doctors and consultants said she had all the symptoms. Her first test “went wrong” and the second was taken while she was recovering from pneumonia and came back negative. She has diabetes but no other underlying health conditions.

Alison added: “I’m still not 100 per cent but I’m glad to be out of hospital. My first walk outside in the sunshine was wonderful.

“Returning to my husband and the cat at home in Cirencester was brilliant. The relief was massive. I had no complaints about the hospital food but it was nice to be able to access my fridge again.”