Fermanagh woman Karen Lyons chooses her words wisely when talking about coronavirus, and she wishes that others would do the same.

Karen received a double lung transplant in January 2018. Since then she takes immunosuppressant drugs to ensure that her body does not reject her transplant. Those drugs save her life daily, but they also leave her vulnerable to infection.

When people talk about those most at risk from coronoavirus they talk about those with suppressed immune systems and the elderly. Karen is one of the former and spoke openly about what it was like to hear people talk about coronavirus, and what for her is a life and death situation: “It is like a stab to the chest, every time that you see or hear that. It is almost like those people don’t matter, it is basically the weak and the people who are not relevant who will die from this. It is like people think it doesn’t matter because the ‘healthy’ will be ok. But I think people forget that they will know someone who’s immune system has been lowered, or just an elderly person who would not be able to fight it off, and it is literally life or death for those people.”

Since her transplant Karen has made being ‘infection aware’ part of her daily routine. It is always there: “It absolutely is a way of life. It has become second nature and is just built in now. I have to take precautions every day regardless of the coronavirus. I have just become more conscious of my environment and who I am around, just so I can protect myself from colds and viruses and flus,” she said before adding that she is very aware that a lot of people do not have the safety of others at the forefront of their mind: “What frustrates and angers me, and this is regardless of the coronavirus, is that people should be taking steps to protect others, and themselves. Basic things like washing your hands. Why would you want to get a flu? Why would you want to potentially pass that on to your children, or your mum or dad? I can’t control what other people are doing and that’s what scares me. Somebody not being responsible can spread this virus.” Karen has been keeping on top of all the latest updates when it comes to the spread of coronavirus, but she revealed that she has been left frustrated by the partial information being released by medical professionals regarding the issue:.

“I have been very angry about the lack of information. I understand that people don’t want to cause mass hysteria but all I can say is that I want to have as much information as I can about where the virus has been detected and where people have been who have tested positive, because that means I can make better decisions about what I do. I just think that in order to keep the majority of people calm about this the way the message has been put out has been a bit flippant. I understand that people don’t want to cause panic, but I need as much information as possible. I cannot take a risk. It is my life at risk.”

Karen has revealed that while she is always cautious about her environment she has taken extra precautions since the spread of coronavirus.

“As a family we have a plan. I don’t go to Asda or Tesco. If my husband, Greg, goes then he doesn’t go at busy times and we would do a double shop, so we don’t have to go as often. And really, I have just been avoiding large gatherings of people and until all this plays out I am going to continue to do that.”