Corona crisis is the ‘fight of our lives’ says Donal
SOLICITOR WAS AMONG FIRST IRISH CASES OF VIRUS
An Arklow man, who contracted Covid-19, is urging others to follow advice to slow the spread of the virus in Ireland.
Solicitor and former councillor Donal O’Sullivan says he was among the first in Ireland diagnosed with the virus after travelling to Italy for a ski trip.
After a member of the group was diagnosed with the virus, Mr O’Sullivan insisted on a test, despite having no symptoms commonly associated with Covid-19.
Following a period of self-isolation in hospital and at home, Mr O’Sullivan has been given the all-clear by the HSE and doctors.
He is now urging others ‘to be so so careful in relation to what they’re doing and where they are going’.
‘We’re in the fight of our lives here. There will be an awful lot of people like me who’ ll be fine. We’ ll be back in the world. I’m sure everyone is sick of the phrase ‘flattening the curve’, but that’s what they are trying to do to buy us some time,’ Mr O’Sullivan said.
An Arklow man has spoken about his experience of contracting Covid-19.
Solicitor and former Arklow Mayor Donal O’Sullivan says he was among the first in Ireland to be diagnosed with the virus following a ski trip to Italy. As he had none of the symptoms associated with the virus - cough, fever, sore throat - Mr O’Sullivan only became aware that he had contracted it after insisting on a test.
Now fully recovered and back at work, Mr O’Sullivan is urging others to follow the HSE’s advice to slow the spread of the virus.
Speaking to this paper, Mr O’Sullivan said he contacted the HSE and ski company before travelling and had been assured that ‘everything was fine’.
‘We were in Trentino in north-eastern Italy and when we went there might have been 12 or 13 cases in Italy. We were told we weren’t in an affected area at all and that we’d nothing to worry about.’
He had travelled to Italy for this ski trip as part of a group of 18. They contacted the HSE before returning to Ireland and were told once more ‘everything was fine’.
The group returned to Ireland through Verona Airport where ‘maybe one in five people were wearing masks. There was no sense of panic at all,’ according to Mr O’Sullivan. He called the HSE again on his return to Ireland on Sunday, March 1. At that stage, as he had no symptoms and had not been in an affected area, Mr O’Sullivan says he was advised to continue as normal.
He contacted the HSE before going back to work and was told ‘ “you’re fine. You’re not in an affected area. You don’t have symptoms so stop creating unnecessary panic”. This was fair enough at the time because that’s what everybody thought.
‘The HSE didn’t do anything [wrong] in what they said to me. They didn’t know.’
The following Wednesday, a member of the ski group told the others that she had been diagnosed with coronavirus. Mr O’Sullivan immediately went into self-isolation as a precaution.
‘She’s a nurse and before she went back to work, she’d insisted on getting tested and was found to be positive. I hadn’t spent any time in her company and didn’t meet any of the exposure criteria to her, but I immediately left where I was.
‘I went into self isolation and contacted the HSE. They wouldn’t test me because I wasn’t close enough to this person to be infected and had no symptoms. I said ‘okay’ then I rang later and insisted I got tested even though I had no symptoms.’
On Thursday, March 5, Donal received word that he had tested positive for Covid-19. He was taken to the Mater Hospital in Dublin where he spent the next seven days in isolation. This was followed by a further seven days in self-isolation at his home. Several other members of the ski group who had contracted the virus were also treated in isolation at the Mater Hospital.
On his experience in self-isolation, Mr O’Sullivan said ‘ luckily I live in the country and I had my own area in the house which is normally owned by the cat, but we had to get used to one another. It was fine, I was able to work and to go outside if I wanted.’
Mr O’Sullivan said he had no temperature with the virus and was able to continue to work, but thinks ‘it might have affected my sense of smell a little bit.’
‘If I hadn’t been tested, I’d have never known. I wouldn’t have had a reason to be tested except one of the girls was a nurse and got herself tested. Of the seven of our group [infected], not one of them was unwell.’
Last Wednesday, Donal received confirmation from the HSE that he had recovered from the virus.
‘They gave me a certificate to confirm that I’m recovered from the virus and I’m immune to the current strain.
‘Effectively after 14 days you’re deemed to be finished and non-infectious. I have the actual certification from the HSE because I wouldn’t go out of my house or anywhere until I got that letter.’
The St Mary’s Road office re-opened on Monday with social distancing measures in place. Mr O’Sullivan paid tribute to practice partner Aine Hogan and their staff who continued to work remotely.
While Mr O’Sullivan says the Government are ‘playing a blinder’, he is urging others ‘to be so so careful in relation to what they’re doing and where they are going.’
‘It’s all about buying time to slow the growth of it and that comes down to people being extremely responsible. People have been fantastic and they’ve responded extremely well to what they’ve been asked. But, we will be asked to do more and we’ ll have to do it.’
‘Everybody is at risk from this and for most people, it’s not going to that bad an experience. The problem is it’s going to be a bad experience for people who are vulnerable, have underlying health conditions and the elderly. ‘Those people are seriously at risk.’ In particular, Mr O’Sullivan says people should be wary of the information they share on social media to avoid spreading ‘nonsense and misinformation’,
‘That was the hardest part for me. Dealing with the misinformation and rumours being spread around about other people was tough... It doesn’t help. People have contacted me to say they think they may have such and such but don’t want to be tested because they know what it could draw on them. They were self isolating and doing everything else right. They need to be encouraged to be tested.’
Mr O’Sullivan is full of praise for the HSE and hospital staff who looked after him.
‘The HSE have fantastic stuff up now [on their website] and they’ve been very supportive. Even up until yesterday, the consultant in the Mater was still ringing me to ask ‘how are you?’
‘These guys are up to their necks and they found the time to ring me. They are absolutely playing a blinder and everyone should be very proud of what they are doing. They are putting themselves in the firing line in a big way. They need to be applauded. We should support them and each other.
‘We’re in the fight of our lives here. There will be an awful lot of people like me who’ ll be fine. We’ ll be back in the world.
‘I’m sure everyone is sick of the phrase ‘flattening the curve’, but that’s what they are trying to do to buy us some time.’
I WENT INTO SELFISOLATION AND CONTACTED THE HSE. THEY WOULDN’T TEST ME...I INSISTED ON GETTING TESTED EVEN THOUGH I HAD NO SYMPTOMS
Solicitor and a former Arklow Mayor Donal O’Sullivan says he was among the first in Ireland to be diagnosed with the virus following a ski trip to Italy.