London Covid: 2 ‘new’ symptoms that might be a sign you have Covid, according to Croydon GP – MyLondon



A Croydon GP says she “eats, sleeps, thinks Covid” as she tells of the toll the pandemic has taken on frontline workers.

Dr Lydia Osei-Boateng says the pandemic has been the hardest year she has faced in her 12 years of being in the role.

As infections spike again and a mutant Covid strain rips through London she is hearing of many more people with minor symptoms of coronavirus which she thinks need to be added to government guidance.

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She said: “It has been a huge rollercoaster. Just when we thought things were starting to get better and we were opening up our doors we’ve been hit again by a massive wave.

“I don’t think they’ve got the symptom criteria right, I think they though include headaches and sore throats – by the time they realise they have Covid, they’ve already come into contact with other people.

“This second wave I am seeing milder symptoms, people don’t think they have it.”

While surgeries across the country have had to close their doors to most patients Dr Osei-Boateng says they have been busier than ever, juggling telephone and face-to-face appointments.

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But she is concerned that people are still not coming forward with other health problems.

Dr Osei-Boateng caught coronavirus herself and was even taken to hospital by ambulance.

It took more than a month to fully recover from the illness, but she says she has been lucky not to be struck with so-called ‘long covid’ – when after-effects of the virus last weeks or even months.

“I’ve had so many patients that still have long Covid,” said the 41-year-old.

“Although the illness was awful for me I was back to normal after five weeks.”

‘GPs are feeling the strain’

But the toll of working under coronavirus restraints has taken its toll on the doctor.

She said: “I am tired, I eat sleep and think Covid. I come home and I’m listening to the news, I’m constantly looking for updates to share with the team.

“I became a GP to get a work life balance but a lot of GPs are really feeling the strain.”

Her children aged four, 10 and 12, are able to go into school for days when she is working as the children of key workers. She says she is pleased they can have this mix.

“My daughter who is 12 finds home schooling kind of fine but my son who is 10 is a sociable animal, he tends to find it difficult at home, my little one wants to be in school too. It has been really good the school being opened for key workers’ children.”

Dr Osei-Boateng said her surgery is still waiting to hear when they will receive the first batch of vaccines – this information filters down from NHS England, to Croydon CCG, and then on to GP surgeries.

‘Nurses are getting rashes because they’re wearing masks for so long’

And for a population of 4,500 people she has heard her surgery, Hartland Way, will get just 36 to start with.

“We’ve had to select 36 patients who are high risk and will be calling them once we know we have a date – we don’t want to get their expectations up before knowing for sure,” she said.

At the weekends the mum-of-three works an out of hours service which includes home visits.

It is in this role she has faced the challenges of wearing full PPE.

The doctor said: “It gets very hot and bothersome, I can’t imagine what it is like for ICU staff.

“I had to do an eye assessment for one patient, the lighting wasn’t great and I was all dressed in full PPE so the visor was just steaming up, it was impossible, in order to do the full examination I had to remove the visor.

“It is really tiring as well because you have to de-robe taking it off in an order.

“I’ve had some nurses who are patients who get a rash around their face from wearing masks for so long.”

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Dr Osei-Boateng is worried about how quickly the virus has been spreading in London and warned people not to mix with others and keep distance when out at the shops.

She added: “People need to stay at home like they’ve been asked to and socially distance when they are out.

“When we see the cases going up like this, I think the deaths will follow.”

As of January 5, there were more than 200 Covid-19 patients being treated at Croydon University Hospital.

And there is currently a rate of 1,039 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, compared to a rate of 1,021 in London and 579 in England.

If you have a story about the impact of Covid on your life or family, please email tara.o’connor@reachplc.com