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Cat

Age at interview: 21
Brief Outline:

Gender: Female
Ethnicity: White British
Background: Catrin is 21 years old and is White British. She has recently finished her university degree. Catrin caught Covid in September 2021 after returning to university. Prior to this she has been studying online from her parents’ home. Fatigue was one of her main symptoms. 

 

More about me...

At the start of the pandemic, Cat remembers walking down the road when someone said to her "what do you think of all this corona stuff?" to which she replied "yeah, it's mad crazy." Cat feels like this was so long ago now given all that has happened since then.
 
Cat became Covid positive in September 2021. She felt disappointed because all summer she had been taking all the precautions to prevent getting infected. She believes she caught it via her friendship group as quite a lot of them had also received positive test results. 
 
Cat says that she did not have usual Covid symptoms. For example, she did not have a new or persistent dry cough, a temperature, or loss of taste or smell. However, before her positive Covid test she did feel tired and low in energy. She remembered, "we went bowling and I genuinely had to force myself off the bench…while my friend was taking her go, I was literally lying on the bench because I was so exhausted." 
 
Cat recognisied that she had personal responsibilities for avoiding Covid, but also felt that the government could have done more throughout the pandemic to protect people. She felt that students were being blamed for spreading Covid. 

 

 

Cat, a student, remembers the difficult decisions that her housemates were making about whether to travel home or risk being stuck.

Cat, a student, remembers the difficult decisions that her housemates were making about whether to travel home or risk being stuck.

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I remember there was a distinct sense of panic in the house when it was like, so and so’s aunties bird’s cousin has said that they work with someone who works in blah, blah, blah, and they said that they’re going to close the border tomorrow, do you know what I mean? It was that kind of thing. No one knew what was going on, all of my housemates but one lived in England, so they were worried that they were going to get stuck in Wales. One of my housemates is from India, she was worried about how to get home and it ended up into a last minute like, “I’ve just booked a flight and I’m going,” type thing. No one knew whether we’d be able to come home. I remember it was my, it’s my friend’s birthday the 28th March, 29thMarch oh gosh, she’ll shout at me if I don’t remember but, the end of March, and it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to have like a party like we would normally do, so we went to the SU and had like one last night out, and me and my other friend were getting a little bit nervous about going, because it was like that unknown of, “Oh I’ve heard that so and so has tested positive in Cardiff, and it was in, still in the stages of like, one or two like the first positive cases in the uni or in the city or in Wales even. And we were like “Oh gosh, like can you imagine if we went to the SU and then we ended up getting it and we’d have to stay here for another two weeks plus”. So, it was very much about like, worries about being trapped I think, worries about the restriction of freedom, the kind of unknown quantity of this virus. Didn’t know the affects it was going to have on us, didn’t know how it was going to play out in the future with coming back to uni, all kinds of stuff like that.

 

A conversation with someone on the street made Cat wonder whether she was safe being close to other people.

A conversation with someone on the street made Cat wonder whether she was safe being close to other people.

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Mm. So I’ve been thinking about this recently actually, the first time I remember it being like, well I do remember it being a news story, but one of my earlier memories I should say is, I was doing research for an ethnography module, in 2nd year so last year and that would’ve been about, yeah about February, I guess. Yeah so, I was just about Valentine’s Day. And the thing is I was I was on Queen Street, and I did I think like 10 hours 15 hours-ish of just ethnography, just standing in the street watching what’s happening, and on one of those occasions I think someone came up to me, a woman came up to me she was asking for change potentially, I think I gave her some, and then she was trying to make conversation and she was like, “What do you think about all this corona stuff?” And I was like “Ooh yeah it’s mad isn’t it.” And she was like “Yeah it’s mad, it’s crazy.” And I was like “Yeah.”

And we didn’t really have anything else to say about it, but I remember that [laughs]. And that must have been before we were like wearing masks and stuff which feels weird saying it because it feels like we’ve been wearing them forever. But and I remember having the first flash of like “oh”. Potentially I shouldn’t be this close to someone I don’t know on the street, with like no barrier. And that was the first time when in my brain I was like ooh, this seems a bit of a weird concept that we like come so close to people, without, so yeah.

 

Cat, a student in Wales, spent a lot of time ‘Googling the rules’.

Cat, a student in Wales, spent a lot of time ‘Googling the rules’.

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I think, my mum kept saying a lot of, to be fair, a lot of my information came from my mum, because she was kind of like my fact checker that I’d go “Is this correct, is this not correct?” She kept saying she was like “Outside very low risk. Inside an enclosed space is quite a high risk even if you wear a mask, close contact”, things like sharing drinking glasses I would assume and then yeah. Information probably, I mean the uni was putting out information but they were just as guilty in my eyes as the government, because they were still taking 9 grand off us, but telling us we need to stay home. “Oh, wait no come back, oh wait no go home.” So yeah, information probably, I mean I spent a lot of time I feel like especially when things got a bit panicked, Googling what the rules were. And I found it quite difficult to ascertain what the actual rule that applied to me was, according to the government advice, so the news probably the government website and my parents, were my main sources of information.

 

Cat had visited her family just before she got Covid and felt relieved when they were not infected.

Cat had visited her family just before she got Covid and felt relieved when they were not infected.

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I was worried about my family, because I had also managed to see them in between those two dates. I saw them in the middle of the week, and I actually hugged, I think my mum, or [stepdad], and they actually didn’t get it, which is kind of miraculous in hindsight. But once I realised that I probably had it, I was obviously racked with guilt because, my mum’s pretty fit and healthy, I was worried about [name], my sister who is 9. And even though I knew intellectually that, you know, children weren’t at that point, didn’t seem to be getting it that badly, I was also really concerned about [name] my stepdad, because he had cancer not that long ago, he had that in 2016. And I didn’t really know what state his immune system was in, and I was really, really concerned that I had put them in danger of getting it and getting it badly.

 

Cat described how the course of the pandemic had followed the lines of social injustice.

Cat described how the course of the pandemic had followed the lines of social injustice.

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I remember seeing a lot of, especially round by me, like nice little suburbia, people with their kids were doing like chalk drawings on their driveways of like, you know, thank you key workers or you know, rainbows and like we’re all in this together type thing. And then when it comes down to it we’re actually not necessarily as all in this together as we might think, because of all sorts of you know, social injustices and identity issues.

 

Cat described how it was a ‘palaver’ trying to get a test before the government introduced home test kits.

Cat described how it was a ‘palaver’ trying to get a test before the government introduced home test kits.

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I can’t remember a huge amount from the very beginning. I think it was just, so and so has come into contact with so and so who was positive. Then that group became positive. Then the next group was positive and we were like “Ooh, we need to try and get our hands on some tests.” And that was at a time when it was really, really difficult to get tests. Because you had to, because also we didn’t have the big 3 symptoms, so we had to then lie on the government form. And you had to put in so many details about your symptoms and your life and blah blah blah. And I had to do it for all of my housemates. And it was the biggest palaver which is ridiculous because now you get these lateral flow tests and they’re like free and they just send them to your house without any bother. But I can’t quite believe how difficult it was to get tests at the start.

 

Cat weighed up her own responsibilities and the government’s. She thought that the government had not done enough to keep the country safe.

Cat weighed up her own responsibilities and the government’s. She thought that the government had not done enough to keep the country safe.

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I think that I was wrong, and I think that it was irresponsible and I do think that I paid the price for that, but I also at the same time, was very aware that on a macro level, that’s not just interpersonal responsibilities, I was very angry at the government because they were doing piss all. Like they were doing nothing ,and I remember at the beginning being like I’m so grateful that I’m not in Italy, like, Italy sounds really scary and it’s everywhere. And then in hindsight once we had then became and surpassed Italy, I thought oh wow, like Italy actually did a lockdown. And they actually like I’m fairly sure that they provided food for their citizens and, and I started looking, instead of being like scared looking at other countries like, what was it like Vietnam had like 10 cases or something ridiculous. Even China itself, was very, very like heavy on the lockdowns which obviously there’s you know, it’s more complex than that but in contrast, I felt very strongly and still do feel very strongly that our government was not doing one cent of what it should be doing, and that on a greater level they had a responsibility which they shirked, to protect the population.

 

Cat felt like a social pariah when she got Covid. She imagined people would think she was an irresponsible young person.

Cat felt like a social pariah when she got Covid. She imagined people would think she was an irresponsible young person.

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You know, don’t really want to tell people because like you know social pariah, that you’ve got symptoms, or you’ve got a positive test. Because also it was quite bound up in like moralisation for me, having to tell people like “Oh I had corona.” Because in my mind that inferred that I had been being irresponsible because I was at uni.

 

Cat hopes that if she gets Covid again it won’t be too bad but thinks that because there is such wide variation in experience that it is hard to know.

Cat hopes that if she gets Covid again it won’t be too bad but thinks that because there is such wide variation in experience that it is hard to know.

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I think I was scared of getting it again, that I would then that time develop worse side effects. But then I think I also had that niggling feeling of like, if I got it again, it probably wouldn’t be that bad because the first time wasn’t that bad. And that feels quite unfair, that there can be such a vast like diversity of experiences and the fact that I’ve had quite a positive one. Not positive but like, test positive yes. That I’ve had quite a not-that-bad experience of it might prompt me to act in a certain way. And that, and also the idea that other people might not be getting it that bad, and then that might skew their idea of like how harmful or risky or dangerous it is. Does that make sense?

Yeah

So, I think I was kind of nervous about how not that bad it was [laughs].

Yeah. And if it had been like a kind of, you know, monolith experience for everyone, whether that was bad or not that bad, it might be more easy to kind of, it sounds cheesy but like unite, or even have like a common enemy and we all understood what the harms were and what the risks were what the problems were. But because it was so like diverse, it just seemed like impossible.

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