A TEENAGE girl struck down with Covid-19 has spoken of how her battle with the virus has made her stronger.

It was eighteen-year-old Marium Zumeer’s first time in a hospital when she was taken in by ambulance, struggling to breathe and with pains in her chest.

Her experience has been documented by Professor John Wright, an epidemiologist and director of the Bradford Institute for Health Research, which is based at the Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI). He has been giving an insight into the hospital’s response to the coronavirus in a series of diaries and recordings for the BBC.

Prof Wright said patients are always asked how they think they have caught Covid-19.

He said: “For the most part, there’s a clear story of contact with someone with symptoms, a household member or an occupational exposure. However, there are a surprising number of patients where the source is an enigma.”

Marium’s father, Kaiser, who works as a taxi driver in Bradford, could have been infected by a client - but he had stopped working and was so worried about protecting his elderly parents from Covid-19 that he took his children out of school a week before the lockdown.

Prof Wright said: “Mostly the family stayed at home, only going out for shopping, but Kaiser’s mother needs kidney dialysis, so three times a week he would drive her to Bradford Royal Infirmary.

“And there was one other occasion when they all left the house - for a funeral. Kaiser says no-one else at the funeral got ill, so it’s impossible to say with confidence that that is where the family picked up the virus.

“What is clear, though, is that eventually the whole family became ill. In fact, shortly after Marium was brought to hospital, her 84-year-old grandfather, Mohammed, arrived in another ambulance, followed later by her mother, Saiqu.”

In a heartbreaking turn, Mohammed, who came to the UK from Pakistan in the 1960s to work in the textile mills, did not recover. But Kaiser decided to keep the news of his father’s death from Marium, for fear that the distress would be bad for her health, said Prof Wright.

Marium and her mother got better quite quickly. While the teenager initially needed a high volume of oxygen, after a few days she was feeling a lot better and could be taken off the CPAP machine - a form of non-invasive ventilation.

She was eventually able to go home and that is when she learnt of her grandfather’s death.

Their last conversation was over Facetime while they were both in different wards of the hospital.

Marium said that as they were talking, he got up and smiled - a memory she will always carry with her. Prof Wright said clinicians and Marium herself had been left puzzled about why she got so much sicker than her five siblings.

She said: “I think young people don’t realise this can happen to them. I didn’t think it could happen to me. You don’t see it coming, it is just there and suddenly it can take you and leave you so ill.”

"This whole thing has made me stronger. You really learn the value of true life - you know, that every breath is vital and so important.

"Just to be sitting here right now, every breath I take, I'm so grateful for it."