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“I was one of the lucky ones”

A PROMINENT Carrickmore man who was one of the  first people in Tyrone to test positive for Covid-19 a year ago  said he was “one of the lucky ones” after his recovery from the virus.

But 72-year-old publican and funeral director, Jimmy Fox, owner of The Charm Inn, told the UH that he still felt  the effects of coronavirus for months after he was released from hospital.

“I wouldn’t have been that well around Christmas time, 2019, and then I went for a chest x-ray in March last year. So the doctors said they would test me and give me the results the next day. The test came back positive on March 12,” Jimmy said.

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“I didn’t realise what Covid was or how dangerous it was to have it. They kept me for 12 days and then let me out. I would have been the first in Enniskillen hospital, and then the first out with a round of applause.

“I didn’t realise at the time how serious it was until I came out. They said I could have been dead, or maybe should have been dead. I was one of the lucky ones. The nurses and those in the hospital were all learning themselves at that stage. It was the first experience for them as well.”

The well-known publican said he has fully recovered one year on from his stint in hospital, but felt the effects of Covid-19 for months after he was released.

“Even up until a couple of months ago I would still have had the tiredness, and would maybe forget the names of people sometimes. Even in the hospital they were even surprised that I was fit to walk out. They were saying I might have to learn how to walk again but I hadn’t lost that ability, thank God.

“I’m going for my second vaccine now on Thursday and looking forward to getting it.”

The Carrickmore man is also a director at FMC Funeral Services, and said there were difficult moments throughout the pandemic.

“We were very lucky as far as Covid deaths were concerned. We had three funerals which were Covid-related. It was routine enough for us but for the families it was a different story as they couldn’t see their loved ones off.”

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“There is a procedure that you have to go through, there is no viewing the body or anything like that. It was straight from the hospital to the chapel to be buried the next day. No wakes or anything like that there.”

“It was awkward for us and awkward for the families. It’s very hard to say to people that they can’t bring their father or their mother home, but we couldn’t do it as it was the legislation and that was it. Thank God there was only three cases as I know there were other undertakers who had to do a lot more.”

With the hospitality industry at a standstill until further restrictions are announced, Jimmy said it wasn’t feasible for The Charm Inn to operate for the foreseeable future.

“Most of our staff are all furloughed. We do meals on wheels for social services, and do 25-30 dinners every day for that so we kind of had to stay open for that end of it.

“When the bar opened last year we had to reduce numbers, stay six feet apart and put up screens and that. Thank God they had to close again because it wasn’t making any money. Whether it will ever get back to the same again or not I don’t know.

“People have been drinking in their houses which works out a lot cheaper, but you just don’t get the same level of hospitality.

“We opened a coffee bar downstairs. It’s small but it’s been doing well and my daughter Kelley is putting a  lot of effort into it. We are still doing carry-out food every day so we can’t complain.

“We would maybe have room for 18 or 20 people in an outdoor area, but we wouldn’t even shape at opening up for that. You wouldn’t shape at it because of the experience we had before – so we won’t be looking at opening again until all the restrictions are lifted,” he added.

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW