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Vulnerable couple say coronavirus crisis has left them feeling ‘abandoned’

Jamie Taylor and Andrew Jukes say the government's slow response to the crisis led to them contracting Covid-19

21 April, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Andrew Jukes and Jamie Taylor

A VULNERABLE couple believe they were infected with the coronavirus after one of them was forced to leave their home for food in the absence of emergency food parcels and available supermarket delivery slots.

Jamie Taylor, 60, and Andrew Jukes, 51, who are both Aids survivors, suffered with strong symptoms of Covid-19 despite their attempts to self-isolate at their flat near Russell Square, Bloomsbury.

They now say shielding measures came in too late, and that attempts to reach people who had been advised due to their health conditions to stay inside completely were ineffective.

Without food and medicine, Mr Taylor said he had to break the advice in order to shop for essentials, later picking up the virus. He then transmitted it to Mr Jukes, who he cares for full-time and whose serious health conditions include asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

“It took so long for them to put things in place to protect people like us that we’ve fallen ill,” said Mr Taylor.

“When ‘herd immunity’ became a byword for our national position it seemed to be more about managing the deaths of people like Andy and me than preventing them.”

Both men became very ill and Mr Jukes’ condition deteriorated to the point where the NHS 111 helpline advised Mr Taylor to take his partner of 20 years to hospital.

“He had a temperature of almost 41 so they pumped him full of IV paracetamol but then they sent him home even though they said he likely had Covid-19. They found out we had a nebuliser and CPAP machine and said he would be safer back at the flat with me than in the hospital,” he said.

“Looking after him while I was feeling weak from the illness too was very tough. There have been times I’ve just sat on the sofa and cried because we have both been alone here without help. Andy was in a terrible state and I was absolutely terrified and didn’t think he would make it.”

Mr Taylor added: “By the time the government realised they had got it wrong a lot of people like us were already infected. I feel betrayed.”

So far, more than 16, 500 people have died with Covid-19 in the UK.

Mr Taylor said the couple had already suffering from the coronavirus when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on March 22 that shielding measures would be introduced to protect Britain’s most vulnerable; a 12 week isolation plan with food packages brought to their door.

Both men were referred by their GPs, Mr Jukes’ was repeatedly denied access when he tried to register for help online, a problem which it has since been revealed that thousands faced across the country.

He said: “I feel like we could’ve died up here and we would’ve just been put in a bag and forgotten.”

A government spokesperson said they are working to support people, including the elderly, disabled and have health conditions to get essential food supplies.

Camden Council said they aim to support all Camden residents through the coronavirus crisis and are working with their partners to ensure the borough’s most vulnerable residents are getting the support they need while shielding.

Camden Carers are now working with Mr Taylor and Mr Jukes and have enabled them to get regular food packages and regular telephone support.

Any resident requiring support can contact the council on 020 7974 4444 (option 9).

Camden Council and Age UK Camden have launched an emergency food delivery service for vulnerable residents. For more information on this service visit the website.

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