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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April, 2003, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
'I caught Sars on holiday'
A British woman has told the BBC how she contracted what is believed to be the Sars virus after a trip to Singapore.

Lin Thomas, UK Sars victim
Lin Thomas spent nine days in hospital with "probable" Sars

Lin Thomas spent nine days in a Manchester hospital after returning from a "holiday of a lifetime" to New Zealand.

The trip included a stopover of less than 24 hours in Singapore - and it is there she believes she contracted the pneumonia-like infection.

"I woke up just to go to work as normal and just could hardly get my breath.

"I was coughing terribly and felt like I was going to choke.

"Speaking was very difficult because I hadn't got any breath to finish sentences."

Speaking was very difficult because I hadn't got any breath to finish sentences
Sars victim Lin Thomas

Ms Thomas went to her GP and was very quickly admitted to a hospital isolation ward. But medical staff did not tell her what they suspected was wrong, she said.

"Nobody ever mentioned Sars, so in the end I asked the consultant who came in every day.

"I said: 'It is Sars isn't it, that is what you're looking for?'

"They wheeled me out of the room and as I came out I saw a big sign on the door which said: 'do not enter under any circumstances', and then I began to see it was being taken very seriously."

Ms Thomas was kept in isolation for nine days while she was treated, with medical staff having to wear special protective clothing to see her.

No risk

"The room prior to the isolation cubicle is where they 'gown-up', and they were wearing masks and visors, and gowns and gloves - so to get into me would take them five or 10 minutes.

"I just felt so unwell and talking was a strain, I was happy to be left alone, for a few days."

After being discharged from hospital and returning home, Ms Thomas had to spend seven days indoors as a precaution.

However, she said her trip to New Zealand was so good, she would do it all over again.

"It was definitely a price worth paying," she said.

Doctors have confirmed that Ms Thomas had "probably" contracted Sars, though further tests are being carried out.

Her health has improved, she is now not believed to be infectious and she poses no risk to other people, a hospital spokeswoman said.




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