SUSANNA REID: Help! I'm scared I've given my mum coronavirus

From red carpet to real life…SUSANNA REID: Help! I’m scared I’ve given my mum coronavirus

  • Susanna Reid celebrated Mother’s Day with her mum Sue, 79, a week early 
  • She began self-isolating after one of her sons developed a persistent, dry cough
  • British presenter is agonising that her mum could’ve been put at risk of infection
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Last Sunday, our kitchen resembled the homes of millions of families across the country. Noisy laughter. Calls to teenagers to get off their phones. My sons answering the usual questions from their grandmother about school and football. A roast chicken, hot vegetables, a jug of gravy steaming in the middle.

It was a Mother’s Day lunch — but held a week early. We’d decided to celebrate while we could in case the over-70s were told to self-isolate.

At 79, my mum Sue is independent and physically active. She had a long career as a nurse and volunteers regularly at a children’s hospital.

But at the front door after lunch, just like millions of others, my children and I said goodbye to my mum wondering when we would all be together again.

Susanna Reid revealed she’s agonising that her mother could have become infected when they celebrated Mother’s Day early. Pictured: Susanna with her mum Sue

The very next morning, one of my sons developed a persistent, dry cough. That afternoon, I watched the first of Boris Johnson’s daily briefings as he made clear the advice had changed, and anyone in a household with just one person with either a cough or temperature was to isolate for 14 days. It felt like he was talking directly to me. I had to stop work and take the boys out of school.

Gripped with anxiety, I realised my usual response of being stoic about illness and carrying on as normal was not the way forward. The thought of being a spreader filled me with fear.

Once I had got over the initial shock that this was really happening, I started worrying about supplies.

With a two-week wait for a Tesco delivery, I realised I would have to get very inventive with the groceries I’ve got. Seriously, have you seen how much food teenage boys eat?

I only have enough for 14 days, but now schools are closed indefinitely, I’m going to ask a friend or a neighbour to drop some shopping round — I’ll need more supplies as my boys eat their way through the day.

While I hate missing work, naturally my biggest concern as we hunker down for our self-isolation over the next two weeks is Mum. Have I already put her at risk of the infection? The thought is agonising. But my mother is as pragmatic as ever.

Susanna (pictured) argues there’s a need for testing as not everyone can afford to take two weeks off when their child has a cough 

I want to find out for sure whether it’s coronavirus, so we can put our minds at rest. Self-isolating when it might just be a cold is all right for me because I’ll still get paid — but can everyone afford to take two weeks off work when their child has a cough and they don’t?

We clearly need more testing so people can get back to work. So now I’m at home I’m planning calls to Mum several times a day, not just on the phone but using FaceTime and Skype with the children. As one of my boys joked: ‘Now we’re all in self-isolation, we might end up seeing Grandma more often than usual.’

This Mothering Sunday we will be doing a FaceTime gathering to keep her spirits up. Instead of nagging the boys to get off their phones, I’ll make sure they text their grandparents regularly.

I know Mum will use her time at home wisely, writing her memoirs, creating her beautiful photo albums and keeping in touch with the elderly lady she phones weekly as a Silver Line volunteer.

She has friends around the world thanks to modern technology. If I can’t see her in person, her face on screen will be a godsend.

Susanna who had ambitions of becoming an actress as a teenager, said she loves watching Harriet Walter, 69, playing Lady Brockenhurst (pictured) in Belgravia

On Sunday, I’ll send her a bouquet of flowers and a card that says ‘Mothering Sunday’ — my mum insists that’s what the day should really be called, since it’s based on a religious holiday when she used to go to church and get given a little bunch of daffodils to take home to her mother. Then the family would celebrate with my grandmother’s renowned chocolate cake.

I am not religious, but I still feel there is a sacredness about Mothering Sunday, even when I’m just enjoying a lie-in and a cup of tea from my boys.

So this Sunday, as we head into our second week in isolation, I will attempt to make the famous chocolate cake myself and raise a cup of tea to family, stoicism and motherly love. To you all and your families, Happy Mothering Sunday.

Now meet my other mother – a Belgravia star

When I was 13, I had ambitions to act and, in 1984, filmed a drama called The Price. I played the daughter of brilliant actress Harriet Walter. For me, as a young girl filming heavy scenes in Ireland, far away from my own mum, I was lucky to have Harriet there to support me.

Sadly my acting career hit the rocks due to a lack of theatrical desire and, if I’m being honest, talent, but I love watching Harriet, now a dame of 69, playing Lady Brockenhurst in the new ITV drama Belgravia. Thankfully, her acting is better than mine.

Even in an emergency, I’d do anything rather than go grey

Susanna said she’s stocking up on hair dye (pictured) and spray tan because she doesn’t want to look a mess while reporting from self-isolation

How many people are rushing to the hairdresser to get their roots done? Lockdown is about to reveal many people’s real hair colour.

I’m following Kirstie Allsopp’s lead and stocking up on hair dye and root touch up. I’ve also popped some extra spray tan on my delivery order.

I may not be able to get into work for a full encounter with my Glam Squad, but each day I’m putting on a smart shirt rather than staying in my pyjamas. Even if I’m not in the studio, viewers don’t need to see me look a mess while I report from self-isolation. Keeping up appearances makes me feel better, too.

In Spain, where non-essential shops are now shut, the hairdressers have stayed open along with supermarkets, pharmacies and dry-cleaners. The government says it’s to avoid disrupting people’s routines. I like to think of hairdressers as an essential service.  

It’s Netflix…and chilling!

I am resigned to staying in to watch Netflix and scaring myself on Twitter. However, try to persuade teenagers that 14 days’ self-isolation means no going out and no socialising and you may as well be speaking in an alien language.

Explaining that the Prime Minister has now said no going out to the pub, just weeks before my eldest son’s 18th birthday, seems cruel. I have high hopes we will use these two weeks to get a lot of homework done and perhaps brush up on our Spanish.

Although, when I say ‘high hopes’, that’s the alien phrase for ‘no hope’.

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