'I just don’t trust them. It makes me cry,’ says Covid survivor

A coronavirus victim today described how she almost died – as Downing Street held a party.

Karen Peake while being treated at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
Karen Peake while being treated at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

Karen Peake, 53, from Heath Farm in Shrewsbury, as one of the first to battle through after being on oxygen in Royal Shrewsbury Hospital’s intensive care unit.

While she survived - including seven days in intensive care battling Covid - she continues to suffer from the devastating and debilitating effects of the disease almost two years on.

Today, Boris Johnson faced a new crisis as more details emerged of a Downing Street party held at the height of the first lockdown.

Mrs Peake said she felt the actions of politicians and officials have let down those who have done the right thing during lockdowns.

She added: “It is all so frustrating and disappointing. I just do not trust them any more. I do not trust anything they say any more. It makes me cry when I think of all that people have put into it.”

Karen Peake said there was frustration over the latest allegations

Mrs Peake had not long emerged from her hospital ordeal when 100 Downing Street workers were allegedly invited to an after work 'bring-your-own' booze party.

It came while the country was still under strict lockdown rules.

Mrs Peake said she believed the Prime Minister Should step down if the allegations are proved true.

She said: "I have not been going out much because of the Omicron stuff. I have not really seen anyone over Christmas."

Mrs Peake said she believed there would be more understanding if there was an apology over the rule breaking.

She said: "If he could admit it and apologise that would be something.

"I think the police should get involved, there are too many people who were there. They were quick enough to get on people meeting outside, it is just not fair and it makes you wonder when they say the NHS is not under pressure because it is."

Mrs Peake became ill at the end of March in 2020 as the pandemic began, and just as the rest of the country was coming to terms with the reality of the first ever lockdown.

After a visit to the GP where her oxygen levels were "dangerously low" she was taken to RSH by ambulance.

While she remembers the journey, and getting into A&E, it is at that point the recollection becomes murky, a blur of doctors waving at the window and hours of lying on her front wearing an oxygen mask to help her breathe.

She said: "I cannot remember much about it apart from waking up with the mask on and the drips inside me."

After seven days of "touch and go" treatment Mrs Peake was one of the first patients to leave the intensive care unit, being clapped out by staff as she moved onto the ward.

She returned home after another six days on the ward, but nearly two years later she is still struggling with the effect of long Covid.

Shocked by disrespect shown to public dealing with grief

Meanwhile a Shrewsbury man whose wife was unable to say goodbye to her father as he died from Covid in a care home. said the alleged ‘bring your own booze’ party makes a mockery of the sacrifices made by normal people.

Jamie Russell, 47, saw his wife unable to say goodbye to her father– just days before the alleged Downing Street invitation was sent out in May 2020.

Louise Russell, 49, and her family then had to bid their final farewells to Colin Whitehouse, 82, at a funeral attended by a handful of socially-distanced mourners.

He said seeing disrespect towards the rules from government officials, and potentially the prime minister, had left him shocked and angry.

“I noticed the date this morning on the email – May 20," he said.

"The last couple of years has been a bit of a blur for all of us but that really hit me because it was four days after my father-in-law died alone in the care home.”

Mr Russell and his wife had been visiting Mr Whitehouse every day for the previous three to four years, until visiting was restricted by the pandemic.

He said: “He was completely isolated. He died a horrible death, he was really lonely, on his own. My wife was not able to be with him in his last moments and then you read the Prime Minister’s secretary was inviting 100 people to a party and you think ‘How does that work?’.”

“Seeing government ministers were happy to bend the rules to help themselves just makes me furious. It is a lack of care about what people went through. The sacrifices they went through, it is indicative of a government that does not care about its citizens.”

Mr Russell said that despite learning that others had ignored the rules, he still believed it had been the right thing to follow the guidance.

He said: “We knew why we were not having lots of people there and even now I think it was the right thing to do – and that was pre-vaccine, it was May 2020, people were really scared and didn’t know what we were dealing with.”

Around 100 people were said to have been invited to the garden party at Number 10 and were told: “Bring your own booze”. It is understood about 30 turned up, and former government aide Dominic Cummings says Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie were there.

Meanwhile, Britain was under lockdown, with people allowed outdoors once a day and able to only mix outside with one other person from another household.

Mr Johnson was today facing Prime Minister’s Questions, as his own MPs spoke of their frustration at his actions.

Conservative Ludlow Tory MP Philip Dunne, who spent 17 months shielding from the start of the pandemic, said if wrongdoing is proved then “consequences” must inevitably follow.

He said: “This is a very serious allegation and it needs to be included in the review being undertaken by Sue Gray and whatever she finds, if there is evidence that the allegations are proven then consequences must then follow.”

Former Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve accused the Prime Minister of being a “serial liar”.

She said: "I can't plan, I don't know how l feel from one day to the other and it is coming on for two years."

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