Coronavirus: 'I was left gasping for air'

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media captionJozef Wallis says coronavirus caused coughing so bad it left him "gasping for air"

Jozef Wallis is a 40-year-old in good health, but ended up in an intensive care unit after contracting coronavirus.

After a busy but otherwise "normal Wednesday" on 11 March, he went for drinks in the evening.

Not long afterwards, he began to feel light-headed and his joints were aching.

By the time he got home to Canada Water, south-east London, he was "shivering uncontrollably", he said.

'I didn't want to move'

image copyrightJozef Wallis,
image captionMr Wallis shared an intensive care unit with five other patients

I curled up on the sofa feeling pretty unwell. That quickly escalated into a fever. I felt either freezing cold, or incredibly hot.

I had cold sweats and tingling sensations across my body.

Then there was the onset of a painful dry cough which left me gasping for air.

I really didn't want to move at all.

'Where did I catch it?'

image copyrightJozef Wallis
image captionMr Wallis said he felt lucky to be diagnosed early.

I stayed home and self-isolated.

I'm fairly fit and healthy. I had no underlying health conditions.

But several days later, I felt more weak and exhausted so my family called an ambulance.

I was admitted to the intensive care unit at St Thomas's Hospital where they carried out tests.

About 30 hours later, I was told I had tested positive for COVID-19.

Where could I have caught it? I'm always on the Underground and frequently meeting many people.

They wore hazmat suits to take me home

image copyrightJozef Wallis
image captionMr Wallis was transported home by ambulance

I was moved to a shared ward with five other patients who had coronavirus, and my condition was stabilised by doctors.

I saw a range of ages and fitnesses.

Two patients were moved to intensive care on assisted breathing.

I was lucky enough to be discharged after five nights and people in hazmat suits transported me home

We should be immensely proud of the whole NHS.

From the ambulance crew to the porters, nurses and doctors. The system is under huge pressure but they still smile and make you feel comfortable.

Am I immune?

image copyrightJozef Wallis
image captionMr Wallis urged others to stay home and ease the burden on the NHS

Three weeks later, I'm feeling much better but still get tired quickly.

Information is muddled, I'm not sure how much longer I have to isolate.

Could I still be contagious or am I immune? It's unclear.

This virus can attack anyone. I was lucky to catch it early on.

The hospital had the situation under control, but because of the man-power needed for each of the isolated patients, we must all reduce the burden on the NHS by staying at home.

I'm very thankful to the people there for us at our time of need."

As told to Jamie Moreland