Published: 17:15, 08 January 2021
| Updated: 18:27, 08 January 2021
A Covid patient has described the "manic" scenes in the full hospital ward he's being treated on and has begged people to take the pandemic more seriously.
Ricky Jones, who is a Dartford councillor, is currently laid up in Darent Valley Hospital and spoke from his bed surrounded by dozens of other patients struggling to fight off the virus.
Dartford borough councillor Ricky Jones speaks from his hospital bed
Cllr Jones has been in hospital for three days after testing positive for Covid-19 on December 27 and needs oxygen to help him breathe 24 hours a day.
But he's urged people to take the virus more seriously and has blamed younger people, including his own children, for being too relaxed about social distancing.
"I contracted this virus, I believe, as a result of our children not taking this seriously," Cllr Jones told KentOnline. "I have a 22-year-old, 18-year-old and a 16-year-old who are socialising with their friends and their friends are socialising.
"It's only when we're being impacted like we are that our loved ones realise how bad this situation is.
"It's making everybody ill. But because they're not getting symptoms they don't see how serious the situation is."
The 53-year-old said Oak Ward, where he is being treated, is "full to the brim" with no spare beds.
"The staff are running around under extreme pressure trying to deal with everybody," Cllr Jones added. "It's unbelievably manic.
"They're such lovely people but you can see they're stretched and are under pressure.
"They're snappy in places and you can't blame them because of how hard they are working and are under great demand.
"We are putting them under some awful demand and try my best not to bother but sometimes you have to.
"They are working so hard and I take my hat off. I love them to pieces."
The hospital is at full stretch with data showing there are 268 patients being treated by Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust and 13 in critical care on January 5.
The father-of-three said he was speaking to show the severity of the situation, how difficult it was for those contracting the virus and working across the NHS and to highlight the importance of staying at home.
Cllr Jones described taking a "concoction of 10 tablets" each morning which is topped up with paracetamol throughout the day and an injection in his stomach to stop it from bleeding.
The sound of patients coughing hard around him as he speaks from his hospital bed acts as a sobering and uncomfortable warning about how seriously ill people can become from the virus.
"I'm breathless, I can't move and I'm in a great deal of pain," Cllr Jones says. "It's an awful situation to be in.
"I cannot imagine any of our children want to see this happen to their parents.
"I know mine are really upset that I'm like this and I know there will be others in their age group who need to take this more seriously."
Dartford has the highest infection rate in Kent with latest figures showing 1,235.1 per 100,000 – equal to one in 80.9 – with 1,391 cases in the seven days to January 3.
Neighbouring Gravesham is the second highest at 1,213.8 per 100,000 – one in 82.4 – and 1,298 cases in the latest figures published today.
The Labour councillor for Princes ward says he's noticed a key difference compared to the first wave back in March last year and the initial lockdown.
"When the first wave came people were being very careful in the shops and were social distancing and there was no issue.
"But recently, people have tended to forget about that and are barging into one another and getting up close which is helping spread the infection.
"People really, really need to be taking that more seriously."
He said he felt schools not shutting sooner had also been a major factor and criticised the government for "being too slow to act".
"The time it has taken to now decide to close schools until February, the damage has been done to people like myself and the hospitals are full and are run-off-their-feet ragged.
"They're doing a fantastic job but they're dead on their feet, the poor staff, and I feel so sorry for them.
"We really, really need to be doing more and people need to know that this is serious.
"We must make sure we social distance in the shops and keep our young people apart and stay home."
He said the large ward which has two bays each for men and women where he's currently staying was "chock-a-bloc" full of Covid patients.
Cllr Jones said he felt like he had a "constant migraine with thumbs pressing into his eyes" and that the "backs of his calves had been ripped out".
"That's how debilitating this Covid situation is and I've got pneumonia as a result as well and it's gone on to my lungs."
He said he "worries" about going to hospital but was glad he listened to his GP who said he needed to go in after his condition had not improved in nine days.
Asked how his family was dealing with the situation, he said his two daughters were finding the situation "stressful".