Covid: Mum cancels Christmas plan to see family as she decides to continue shielding due to Omicron

Credit: Media Wales

The mother of a four-year-old boy who has been shielding for the last 18 months has spoken out about the difficulties she's faced.Dalila Tremarias, 34, from Cardiff, thought she would finally be able to visit her family and friends this Christmas after being double vaccinated.She now has chosen to carry on shielding until further guidance due to the new Omicron variant.

Dalila said, "For 18 months, I have had to isolate and try to avoid people all the time. It's really hard to do when you're in Cardiff.

Dalila has a condition known as Lupus which affects the immune system. While there is no cure, symptoms can improve with early treatment.

"Its challenging staying stuck in the house all the time but I have to stay indoors until we know more about the new variant."Dalila has a condition known as Lupus, where the immune system attacks healthy parts of your body, causing joint pain, rashes and extreme tiredness.

She is worried about the lack of information surrounding the new variant, particularly how it may affect those with the same condition as her.She said, "My condition makes me prone to infections and increases my risk of severe Covid-19."I had to stay home during lockdown for the whole of 2020. I only went out to see my GP, go to the hospital and for one walk with my son. It's crazy being in the house for so long."We have had to wait until 2021 for me to have the vaccine at the start of the year."I had my second one in March but had to wait eight weeks for my body to develop the antibodies to fight against Covid so didn't go out until June.

"Even though I have the antibodies, I have very few compared to the general population, so I'm not sure how much protection I was actually having - I remember seeing studies in America saying we were still high risk and to keep precautions at the time."Dalila will now have to shield again until it's time to get her booster jab.She said, "All this time I have been facing uncertainty. I know I'm protected with the jab but not the same as general population. So even when I get this booster - how much protection do I really have?"It's just crazy to be in the house for so long. I have a child and it's hard for him to stay indoors for long periods of time as well."

Delila had her second jab in March, but had to wait eight weeks for her body to develop the antibodies, so couldn't go out until June. Credit: Media Wales

Dalila has been home-schooling her four-year-old son since the pandemic and admits it has been difficult for both of them.She said, "I have to teach him the alphabet and how to read. I'm doing all that and it can be difficult as teaching is something I didn't know how to do."He doesn't go to school or mix with anyone other than me and my partner. I take him to the park and outdoors when it is quiet and there aren't many people about."He is still getting the normal development he needs physically and mentally but obviously there is a social side."Dalila added how stressful it is knowing he's missing out on interacting with other children."A child is like a blank page and they develop their own personality. I am trying to still teach him things and he is learning and growing. But clearly it is in a different way than his peers."It's horrible knowing he's missing out on that - especially when I don't know how long we are going to shield and when it will all end."I wish he could play with other children, but right now we need to wait for more information about the variant and vaccine to be out and then can decide on a plan. "Dalila said mentally, shielding has 'been a really big challenge.'She said, "Before this, I had a completely different life and could go outside, despite my condition.

"I've had to build a new lifestyle and routine from scratch - so has my partner and child. Then there's the uncertainty of how much protection I have and mixing with other people."With this third wave, it just feels so overwhelming yet I have to keep listening and taking precautions because I need to stay safe.""I already have a long term condition which needs to be managed. It's not helpful to feel too much distress because there's the risk of my condition flaring because of that."My whole life has been made different and challenging because of Covid."

Dalila can no longer visit her family and friends this Christmas and has had to get in touch with my family and friends via Zoom calls.

"At least it is still some form of interaction and much better than seeing no one. In my position, I've learnt that social interaction is very important for your emotional health."You need positive interactions around you - especially when everything else is so negative."

Dr Frank Atherton, Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Tweeted a statement yesterday (23 December), to those who were previously shielding, saying, "we have not forgotten about you."

Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, has written a statement to help advise those who are clinically extremely venerable.

It states, "The Chief Medical Officer for Wales is writing to everyone on the Shielding Patient List to provide them with updated advice about the new, fast-moving omicron variant.

"In addition to advising them about how they can minimise their risk of catching the virus, the letter will emphasise the importance of having the booster vaccine; provide the latest advice about testing, including our “flow before you go” message and highlight the new medications available to people with certain conditions who test positive for Covid-19.

"Having the full course of Covid-19 vaccines, including the third primary dose for people who are severely immuno-suppressed, followed by a booster vaccine, is the best defence available to all of us. It is vital we make getting the vaccine, including the booster, a priority."

Dalila can no longer visit her family and friends this Christmas. Credit: Media Wales

Despite the challenges, Dalila is feeling positive and believes she won't be trapped indoors for too long.She said, "We have vaccines, treatments and scientists are working on things. Compared to the beginning of last year we didn't have any of this - I think we are in a much better position."Although it was difficult for a while last year, in my area, my own neighbours have volunteered to get my medication and I have been lucky to find supermarket slots."I'm in touch with so many charities such as Kidney Care UK, RAIRDA and Lupus UK who have provided me with so much daily guidance about the virus, protection, vaccination, treatments. There's helplines available and they were even providing grants."Its wonderful knowing there is always someone I can talk to or ask them to explain any guidance or information. During this pandemic, there have been so many challenges, especially for high-risk people like me so I really appreciate their support."

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