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‘If I can end up like this now, so can anyone’: Father, 39, with no known underlying conditions was left so close to death by coronavirus he recorded a ‘goodbye’ message to his family

A 39-year-old father left on the brink of death by the coronavirus has pleaded with the British public to ‘not be an idiot’ and heed the government’s advice to stay at home.

Matt Dockray, who has no known underlying health conditions, was ‘at one point given a small window of survival’ when his lungs began to fail after he was admitted to an intensive care unit with the life-threatening virus.

The father, who has been ill for three weeks, said his symptoms began as a ‘small cough’ on March 1.

But Mr Dockray, from Marlow in Buckinghamshire, soon became so ill that he recorded a goodbye video to his wife and child and ‘nearly gave up due to the pain and the fear’.

Mr Dockray told of his ordeal in an eye-opening Facebook post, saying: ‘I’m 39, and no poster boy for men’s health, but if I can end up like this now, so can anyone reading it.’

Boris Johnson ordered the closure of all shops selling non-essential goods, as well as playgrounds and churches in strict new measures introduced to stop the spread of the virus on Monday.

The Prime Minister banned gatherings of more than two people and said family reunions, weddings, baptisms and other social events must be cancelled to stop the NHS collapsing under the strain of the pandemic.

In a Facebook post, Mr Dockray said: ‘I’m currently in ICU and at one point given a small window of survival as my lungs are failing and awaiting my time to be sedated and put on a ventilator.

‘I have been ill for three weeks, from a small cough on the day I watched football at Wembley on 1 March, to chills, fever and headache as we opened our new venue in London.

‘Day by day, I felt hungover and crap, but I carried on like a true hero, ignoring every bit of family advice.

‘The doctors asked if I had been to China and that was enough to disregard COVID-19 and for them to tell me that I may have a seasonal virus, but they gave me some antibiotics just in case.’

The father explained how in the early days of his illness he was unable to leave the sofa, and was struggling to stay awake and breathe properly.

‘It took two hours and still no answer from 111, and each day it got worse,’ he said. ‘Finally, my wife couldn’t listen to me anymore and called an ambulance.’

It was then that the true nature of Mr Dockray’s condition revealed itself, and he was rushed to an intensive care unit.

‘Within an hour, I was blue-lighted into a military operation, where doctors in hazmat suits told me that they thought I had COVID-19 and that I was critically ill,’ he continued.

‘They were going to call my wife and family and explain that I would have to be put to sleep, and then put on a ventilator, as my lungs were failing and would be going into respiratory arrest.

‘Those who know me know I like a challenge, and from that moment have been fighting with every breath on the promise that until I pass out, I’m to stay awake to fight this with everything I can.

‘Three days later, I have started to stabilise – it’s not that I’m getting much better, it’s just that I’m not getting any worse.’

After his ordeal, Mr Dockray warned those who are still ignoring the government’s advice to stay home and ‘stop risking loved ones’.

Some 422 people have died in the UK after testing positive for COVID-19, with more than 8,000 cases confirmed.

‘It gives me the opportunity to warn each and every one of you who thinks they are invincible, or who are breaching every bit of advice to go out for no reason,’ the father continued.

‘On an hourly basis, I am watching the rooms marked with a laminated red rose – identifying those critical with COVID-19 – empty as their family say goodbye through the glass.

‘For everyone who thinks they might just get a cough and mild symptoms, or who thinks they have had it so they will be fine, please don’t be an idiot.

‘I wouldn’t wish this on any enemy. I even recorded a video to my wife and child to say goodbye because at one point I nearly gave up due to the pain and the fear.

‘This isn’t for sympathy or attention – I’ve got every bit of positivity coming right at me from those closest and dearest.

‘Every word of encouragement equals a rescue breath to getting better. This is for those that need a kick in the a*** to stay out the way – stop panic buying, stop risking loved ones – do as you’re told and let nature take its course.’