Covid-19 in the community


This section will be one of four studies on Covid in the UK published on the Healthtalk.org. platform
Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by a virus known as SARS-CoV-2. Although Covid-19 is the official name of the viral infection, we use the ‘Covid’ throughout for purposes of readability.


Covid-19 in the community; see a preview

Covid-19 in the community; see a preview



I actually spoke with both my manager, I spoke with some of my colleagues, those that I felt that I needed them to know that I have it. I spoke with my local church, everybody that I had it, so I didn’t have that stigma of people looking at me in a certain way stigma and saying, ‘He’s got it we need to stay away from him’, or what have you, no. That stigma, I didn’t feel those things. But it’s out there, people tend to be more silent and private and internalise those things. I’m not one of those kind of persons. I, I think that speaking out about it was important for me anyway. It bring, it brought awareness. It also brought people closer to me that reached out to me that probably would not have done that before….


It was really surreal. You know, it almost felt like pandemic movies, like all of a sudden, this has become a lot more real because I thought to myself, if this was a normal virus, they would have just seen me in a normal room, done everything normally, you know. People go into the GPs with all kinds of viruses and bacteria, which can be caught, nobody pays any attention. And I thought there must be something really truly bad about this virus if she won’t even touch me or come near me. If I’m being forced to sit in this room and you know, and that was reinforced more when I was actually in hospital and they were just doing their tests. They tested me for flu and they tested me for the Covid and then that that’s when a doctor came in, she didn’t have a mask on, but she was saying, “No, no, no, you can’t be here. You know, what are you doing walking in here like this? You’ve got to be outside. We’re going to have to put you in a hazmat suit.” Turns out I didn’t have Covid, at that time.


No, No I’d, I didn’t think twice about it, I just, I just went, and I had said, you know, if you, if you need me, ring me and my mum, you know, my mum did ring me and I was the only person basically would ring and I knew that because I live on my own. I wouldn’t have been putting anybody else at risk.

I knew when I was with my parents I was likely to get it because I’d been up so close particularly with my dad, you know, because you have to get close to him, a) to feed him and give him his medication but [b)] also because he can’t hear you. So, we’re both shouting at each other, which increases the chance of, you know, air transmission, through the air so to me I thought it was almost inevitable to be honest.

And often people make those decisions with their heart rather than, you know, rather thinking about them, they’re instinctive sometimes and then and then when you’ve done it once, you think, ‘Oh I’ve done it once therefore I might as well do it again,’ you know.


I will say unequivocally, without yeah, shadow of a doubt, it’s been the worst I’ve been sick ever in my life and the longest I’ve been sick, and I didn’t appreciate just how difficult it would be to just how how nasty the symptoms are and so many of them as well.


I felt like, I felt like oh my God they are stopping me doing my own activities, you know. Because even the people I was speaking to them over the phone I said look, you know, me I got this virus, but I’m 100% fine. I do norm- I can do normal activities. I can shower myself, clean the house, you know, sleep, get to sleep, you know. I can do sport, I can go out for activities, but I can’t do that, you know. So I stay with mys-, I stay in the house by myself.


I think at my worst point, I was, not just did I feel the sort of chest ribcage area really really sort of, being ripped every time I coughed. It felt like, the only way to describe it is knives being stabbed, between the ribcages. So, it affected me really really bad from a physical point of view. From a mental point of view it just completely knocked me out, you know.


There we were again, battling it again and I would say that this time was, you know, in terms of kind of managing it at home, it was a lot harder because all five of us were down with it at the same time. So, I was literally well [name], my husband got it last, so he was doing all the kind of meals and bringing them up to the children and myself. And then when I got it, you know, it was a case of, sorry when he got it, it was a case of, you know, literally going round all of the bedrooms, taking everyone’s temperatures. Then doing a Calpol run, then doing a fluids run, then doing the meals, then back to bed or whatever, you know, it was, it was like running a ward but being ill yourself, you know.


But then the parents were very, very supportive about it and you know it was not like it was my fault. But luckily, I would say that it was good in a way I did not have any other children because you know there are times where I have about five children in the house. So I do not even want to imagine telling each and every one you’ve got to isolate, you’ve got to isolate, but yeah it was…it [laughs]. But you do feel, I don’t know, I don’t know about other people… do you need to feel guilty about it because I don’t know? Sometimes it was like oh god it’s because of me she has to isolate kind of a thing. But then it’s not my… it’s not anybody’s fault really is it?


But yeah, it’s very difficult and then to come out of it the other side and think it’s over, but then you, it’s over, there’s no more Covid, you know there’s no Covid, but your mental health is very affected, is very affected by it so much like, I’ve been through so much in the last year that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do. You know I’ve come, I’ve recently been diagnosed with depression. My anxiety levels are really high at the minute because even though it’s gone, even though we are allowed to do things, normal things now within reason, it’s still very hard to go out and think “well you know, somebody, I could still catch it”


Biggest impact. I think I will realise that I lost my health, very healthy person but not like before, you know. Sometimes I still feel the chest pain struggle with breathing, you know. But another good thing is I cherish my life more, you know, do a lot, love my family and I got my life back, you know. So I more cherish the life, you know. Look after myself, look after the health, you know.


Dr Jenny Douglas talks about the use of language to describe race across this website.

Dr Jenny Douglas talks about the use of language to describe race across this website.


In this healthtalk module we use the term ‘ethnic minority communities’ to describe people from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups who participated in this research. Identity is complex, and there are many ways to talk about race and ethnicity in the UK. Some people we spoke to used their own identifier, such as Black, Indian, or African. Other people used terms like BME, which stands for Black and minority ethnic, or BAME, which means Black Asian and minority ethnic. People sometimes referred to their main identity as relating to their religion, such as Jewish or Muslim.
There is criticism of the term ‘minority’, because it does not reflect the history of race in the UK and its connection to colonial legacies. Sometimes people prefer to use the term ‘minoritised’, for example. We use minority for purposes of accessibility, but recognise its limitations.


Covid can affect anyone, including children. Most people who were infected with Covid in 2020 and 2021 had mild to moderate symptoms and illness. However, some became critically ill and needed specialist medical care.
In the spring and summer of 2020, it became noticeable that some groups of people were more likely to be critically ill with Covid. Those who were elderly, disabled or living with long-term illnesses had a greater risk of serious illness or death if they were infected. Other people who were more likely to get ill were those who were regularly exposed to the virus and/or were less able to protect themselves because of their working and living situations.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought attention to existing social inequalities in the UK, such as differences in experiences because of race and occupation. People who were already disadvantaged in society were more likely to become seriously ill or die from Covid.
For the study published in this section, the focus was on talking to an ethnically diverse range of people about how being ill with Covid affected their daily lives, families and communities. They discussed how they found out about Covid, steps they took to avoid getting infected, their own illness and their wider experience including how the pandemic affected their lives, their family and household situations, social life, employment and living circumstances. We reviewed what everyone said and then wrote about each topic in 25 articles. Each of these includes clips chosen from the interviews so that you can hear directly from the people we talked to.
This resource is based on 70 interviews from across the UK, conducted in 2021 with people who had Covid sometime between spring 2020 and autumn 2021.
Supported by
This project is funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council. 


Next Page