Ultramarathon man struck by Covid-19: It may be better to die

Cape Town, South Africa, Apr 24 (EFE).- When he fell ill following a routine operation, no-one suspected Hector Elliot had come down with Covid-19.

The 47-year-old runner of ultra-marathons is not the type of person usually associated with aggressive forms of the disease, which poses the greatest risk to older people and those with underlying health conditions.

The fitness-minded South African also dedicates time to ultra distance trail running and ultra-distance swimming.

But the former British Army paratrooper describes his ordeal as unlike anything he had experienced in his life.

“I went into hospital for what was supposed to be a routine operation and basically came out 24 hours later,” he tells Efe-Epa.

“I was absolutely buggered, had a terrible fever, I was sick.”

At first, he was prescribed antibiotics by his doctor and he recovered briefly before taking a turn for the worse again.

“After that, it just went really dark,” he says.

He was back in hospital two days later and doctors ran tests to find out what was behind his high temperature and severe nausea.

“By the time I went into the ER, my temperature was up to 40C (104F). I was vomiting and it was just like… sick like I’ve never experienced in my life.”

Doctors first suspected he had sepsis, given his recent operation. But then a chest scan picked up evidence of pneumonia in his lungs, one of the main symptoms of Covid-19.

They ran tests for the coronavirus and they came back positive.

“Then the following three days of sickness, I thought at some point it may be better to die.”

Elliot was taken to an isolated ward and placed on oxygen.

It took him about 36 hours to get through the peak of his symptoms.

Coronavirus cases in South Africa remain relatively low compared with the rest of the world, although infections are on the rise across the continent.

According to John Hopkins University, 65 people have died from the disease in South Africa and a total of 3,636 people have contracted it, with around 2,515 of those still active.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of emergency in mid-March to stem the transmission of the infectious virus and on 27 March he announced a 21-day lockdown.

The strict measures have seen South Africa get the rate of infection largely under control and authorities are now looking at how to reopen the country.

Elliot says his advice is to trust the government’s handling of the situation and to wait out the lockdown.

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