London, Ont., teen with rare immune disorder urges public to take coronavirus seriously

Tiffany and Anthony Jamieson. via Anthony Jamieson

As Canadians are asked to do their part to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, a London, Ont., family is highlighting exactly why that’s so important.

The elderly and immuno-compromised are at elevated risk when it comes to COVID-19, and while Anthony Jamieson is only 17 years old, he has a rare condition known as common variable immune deficiency (CVID).

“Knowing my son’s risk, he [would] probably not survive COVID-19,” his mother, Tiffany Jamieson, told Global News.

“Every year we’re freaked out like with the flu and common cold because he doesn’t have an immune system. He’s been hospitalized numerous times with pneumonia and stuff in the ICU. With COVID-19, it brings that risk and that scare factor up really high.”

READ MORE: Archived: Live updates on coronavirus in Canada

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Before the provincial government announced school closures, the Jamieson family had already begun additional precautions.

“I went part-time to school,” said Anthony, “and whenever I did go to school I had to wear a mask and gloves and stuff so that I didn’t get any sickness from the other students there.”

Anthony’s three siblings have also had to practise social distancing and avoid playing outside with friends in order to protect their brother.

Tiffany Jamieson adds that her son relies on plasma transplants to provide him with some antibodies for protection and a huge concern of hers is that closures could eventually extend to the clinic where he receives treatments.

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“If they close the IV therapy clinic, he is without treatment and then … the common cold for all of us, it would become a killer cold for him.”

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His next plasma treatment is scheduled for April 1.

READ MORE: Here’s why frequent handwashing is recommended in preventing spread of COVID-19

Anthony admits he’s “kind of terrified” of getting COVID-19, and he’s urging the public to practise social distancing and sanitizing.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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