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‘Follow the rules or there could be tragic consequences’ - Newquay carer’s no-nonsense message after contracting Covid-19

A carer from Newquay who contracted Covid-19 is urging people to follow the rules to stop the virus spiralling out of control in Cornwall. 

Mum-of-two Francesca Barnecutt, 27, said the actions of those who ignore the guidance could have a devastating impact on vulnerable or elderly people. 

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Her warning comes as coronavirus numbers continue to soar across Cornwall, with the rate rocketing from around 18 per 100,000 at the start of December to around 340 per 100,000 this week. 

Francesca said she wanted to share her experience of Covid-19 to help people understand the impact it can have on people of all ages. 

“If you want a clear conscience then stick to the rules,” she said. “If you don’t, you’ll end up spreading it to loved ones and strangers and that could have tragic consequences. Personally, I couldn’t live with that.” 

Francesca has been working as a home carer for just over three months and describes it as the most rewarding job she has ever had. 

She is unsure how she contracted the virus but with numbers in Newquay higher than most areas of Cornwall she could have picked it up anywhere. 

She had a test at the Regional Testing Site in Truro on December 28 after developing mild symptoms and calling the national testing service on 119. 

“Going to get my test I felt quite intimidated and frightened,” said Francesca, who has two daughters - Amelia, aged four, and Luna, aged 10 months - with husband Terry. “Seeing all the cars lined up was like an apocalyptic movie or something.  

“The staff there were very friendly and clear though and made it really easy. They were really informative and cheerful too.” 

The next morning at around 10.30am she was notified of her positive result. 

“The moment I found out I put my shoes on and went out to our caravan and stayed there for 10 days,” she said. “The caravan was a godsend really. I had a bed, sofa, TV, toilet, shower, and everything I needed. 

“When I first came in, I was struggling and felt very alone. I didn’t know what to do with myself. But then I just decided to make the most of it. Terry could still bring the kids to the window so I could speak to them and have a laugh. I also had time to speak to friends and family on video calls, which was lovely.” 

She added: “Amelia has been amazing. She knows all about social distancing and self-isolation and she would come out to see me and say through the window ‘have you still got the germ mummy?’ She was counting down the days until I could come out and give her a big hug.” 

Francesca said her experience of the virus wasn’t as bad as some, but the aches, exhaustion, cough and loss of taste and smell had all taken their toll. 

The impact of diagnosis and self-isolation on people’s mental health should also never be underestimated, she said. 

“I suffer with anxiety so when I first found out it was panic stations,” she said. “I was sure I was going to die or pass it on to my husband. It was a worrying time. Thankfully he had a test which was negative, so I felt a lot better after that. 

“This has all put a lot of pressure on him though as he’s had to look after the kids himself, which has been really tough.” 

Francesca was contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service but fortunately had not been out much so there were very few contacts for them to chase up. 

“That’s why it’s so important not to flout the rules,” she said. “I’m young and relatively fit and healthy, but I could easily have passed it on to an 85-year-old who could have ended up on a ventilator. 

“I was also incredibly careful which just goes to show how easily Covid can catch you out. Overall, my message is simple: stick to the rules, play your part in this and don’t be selfish! If you won’t do it for yourself then do it for your family and children.” 

Cllr Sally Hawken, Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children, Wellbeing and Public Health, said: “I’d like to thank Francesca for sharing her story and her message, which is hugely important as our case number continue to rise at an alarming rate.  

“The virus has been spreading from home to home far too easily and we need to stop it in its tracks. Throughout lockdown the rules are simple: stay at home and only go out if it is essential. 

“Having a caravan made it much easier for Francesca to self-isolate but everyone must do the following if they develop Covid symptoms or test positive.” 

Measures that households should adopt if someone has to self-isolate include: 

  • Try to stay at least two metres (three steps) away from the other people in your home. 
  • Wash your hands as often as possible with soap and water and encourage the rest of your family/ household to do the same. 
  • Encourage everyone to avoid touching their face as much as possible. 
  • Clean or disinfect all surfaces, door handles, phones, keyboards etc as often as you can. 
  • If you have several bathrooms, choose one for the person with symptoms to use, and don’t let the rest of the family/ household use it. Bathrooms should always be well-cleaned after each use. 
  • Avoid sharing objects with other people in the household, particularly crockery, cutlery, glasses, cups, towels and bedding. 
  • Keep your spirits up! Chat to friends on the phone or online, read books, play musical instruments, watch movies, play video games, work out and/or have a relaxing bath. 

For more information on the rules and guidance visit our dedicated web pages.