This is how a super-fit sportsman was left on a Sheffield hospital ward for a week needing oxygen after contracting Covid

He was a fit 25-year-old from Sheffield – but keen sportsman James Cook was left on oxygen in a city hospital for nearly a week after being struck by the coronavirus.
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Now James is urging people to get their vaccine against the illness no matter how old they are, to avoid going through what he experienced, as the number of Covid patents in city hospitals continues to rise, with most being under 50 and unvaccinated.

James contracted Covid after going out for a meal with friends in Sheffield City Centre to celebrate his girlfriend’s birthday.

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He subsequently spent six days in the Royal Hallamshire Hospital receiving treatment, including oxygen therapy, after developing Covid-19 pneumonia.

James Cook was in hospital for six days after contracting CovidJames Cook was in hospital for six days after contracting Covid
James Cook was in hospital for six days after contracting Covid

James, who has no underlying health conditions and runs, plays football and goes to the gym, hadn’t been vaccinated when he caught Covid.

He said: “All of us who went out for the meal got it. We were all aged 25-28 with no underlying conditions, but I seemed to get it really badly. The doctors said I had every symptom.

“At first it seemed like a really bad cold and I tried to tough it out, but it got worse and worse and reached the point where I could not breathe properly and my girlfriend had to wake me up because my breathing was so shallow and fast it was scaring her.

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“She had to call an ambulance and I was taken to hospital and I was in there for a week. I felt physically terrible, I was wheezing, I felt dizzy, there was fluid on my lungs. Even after leaving hospital I still feel dreadful and have had to spend four or five days in bed.

Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital. Picture Scott MerryleesSheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital. Picture Scott Merrylees
Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital. Picture Scott Merrylees

“I would consider myself to be fairly fit, and together with my age and my health would typically be seen as low risk. I hadn’t had the vaccine because I was really busy, I’d just started a new job and like an idiot I thought I would wait until everything had settled down a bit.

“Now I’ve been telling all my friends to make sure they get fully vaccinated as soon as they can because this is not something to be taken lightly, and you shouldn’t assume it won’t make you ill just because you’re young and healthy.”

Professor Chris Morley, chief nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In the last 10 days we have seen a steep rise in the number of people being admitted to hospital needing care for Covid-19.

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"We have almost 50 people in hospital compared to single figures a couple of weeks ago and some of those are in ITU. The majority are under 50 and have not been vaccinated.

“As we begin to mix even more from next week, I would urge people to make getting vaccinated a priority this weekend and continue to take precautions in terms of keeping your distance from others wherever possible, wearing masks inside and in crowded places and regular handwashing or gelling hands. COVID has definitely not gone away.”

If you are over 18 and need a Covid vaccine, visit the Octagon Centre, Sheffield or Sheffield Arena, 8am to 5pm, seven days a week without having to book.

You can also book or change an appointment by calling 119 or visiting