British man with COVID-19 says, 'I've had worse flu without a doubt'

British man with COVID-19 says, 'I've had worse flu without a doubt'

‘I’ve had worse flu – without a doubt’: Diabetic British father who caught the coronavirus on Italy ski trip reveals it barely affected him – even though he’s vulnerable to the illness because of his condition

  • Andrew O’Dwyer tested positive for COVID-19 after a ski trip with friends to Italy
  • A total of 21 of the 25 people who went on the holiday have been diagnosed 
  • He said the worst part of the deadly COVID-19 was a ‘debilitating cough’ 
  • Despite having an underlying condition, Mr O’Dwyer was ‘not worried’ 
  • The father has spent two weeks in isolation at his home in London 
  • However, he believes Italy and the UK have been slow in their response
  • He worries not enough people are being tested amid growing cases in the UK 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

A British man has told how bouts of the flu were worse than his experience with the life-threatening coronavirus spreading across the globe.

Andrew O’Dwyer, whose age is not known, tested positive for COVID-19 after going on a ski trip with friends to the Italian Dolomites in February. 

He didn’t show symptoms for a week before getting ‘quite debilitating cough’ and a high temperature that kept rising and falling.

The father-of-one, who is from Prestwich, Greater Manchester, but lives in London, will have spent a total of 21 days indoors by the end of his self-isolation. 

Despite having type 1 diabetes, an underlying health condition which puts Mr O’Dwyer at an increased risk of illness severity, he said having the virus ‘isn’t anything to worry about for me personally’. 

His main concerns are that people are not being tested enough, and that the UK government are responding to slow to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Out of a group of 25 who he went on holiday with, 21 people have tested positive for virus. Some have passed it onto spouses and family members.  

There have been 10 coronavirus-related deaths so far in the UK, all of whom were over the age of 60, and a total of 596 cases.

Andrew O’Dwyer, whose age is not known, has told how bouts of the flu were worse than his experience with the life-threatening coronavirus spreading across the globe

‘The worst bit is the uncontrollable coughing,’ Mr O’Dwyer, who is still recovering after being infected in his London home, told the BBC today

There have been 10 coronavirus-related deaths so far in the UK and a total of 596 cases

‘The worst bit is the uncontrollable coughing,’ Mr O’Dwyer, who is still recovering after being infected, told the BBC.

‘I’ve had worse flu, without a doubt – but I wouldn’t want to catch it again,’ he said from his south-west London home.

Despite having type 1 diabetes, which along with conditions such as heart disease and asthma makes people more vulnerable, Mr O’Dwyer said having the virus ‘isn’t anything to worry about for me personally’.

He adds that the fever he experienced is ‘no different to normal flu-type symptoms’.

‘I’ve not been concerned,’ he said.

Mr O’Dwyer and his friends stayed in a chalet in Selva di Gardena as part of a Ski Total package between February 22 and 29.   


A British coronavirus victim diagnosed onboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship told how the coronavirus affected his health. 

David Abel, 74, described collapsing at a Japanese hospital on February 20 and being put in a wheelchair after he became one of 634 people to catch coronavirus on the vessel where the disease rapidly spread on board.

The virus was significantly more threatening to Mr Abel and his wife Sally due to their age and the fact Mr Abel is diabetic, because elderly and sick people with compromised immune systems are most at risk of serious complications.

In a Facebook post documenting his ordeal with coronavirus, Mr Abel said: ‘We arrived in lovely hospital a couple of hours ago. Taken by ambulance blues and twos the entire journey.

‘Outside the hospital I came over a bit weird and nearly passed out. Every pore on my body opened and I was wheelchaired to our room. Full health inspection and now we know what’s going on.’ 

Mr Abel, who begged the Government to evacuate him before he caught the virus, revealed both he and his wife also caught a cold.

But he added: ‘We are both in the best place! They do know what they are doing and our two nurses are gorgeous. Sally likes the Dr too.’

The couple are still in hospital in Japan today, March 13.

The virus was spreading across northern Italy, but Mr O’Dwyer said official advice at the time only applied to the Lombardy region. 

On his return from Italy to the UK, he decided to stay at home and self-isolate as a precaution due to the outbreak that was unfolding in Italy, despite experiencing no symptoms at that point.

Mr O’Dwyer’s friends on the trip, who had returned to different parts of the UK, became ill within two days of their return and tested positive for COVID-19.

So Mr O’Dwyer alerted NHS 111, who he said were ‘very good’. The service sent two nurses in hazmat suits to his home in London to take swabs on Wednesday. 

He was confirmed to have the virus three days later.

Mr O’Dwyer said his symptoms included a fever, coughing fits and breathing difficulties, and paracetamol has helped to relieve his raging fever.  

The severity of symptoms can vary widely among people – while some people have barely any symptoms, one British man said ‘every pore in my body opened’. 

Those who are older and have pre-existing medical conditions are more at risk of severe illness and death. 

On Saturday Mr O’Dwyer had to go to hospital in an ambulance for an assessment because he was ‘struggling with his breathing’.

‘But it took four hours to get a return call from a clinician. By the time I got a call back I was feeling better and now I feel okay.’ 

Mr O’Dwyer hasn’t been out the house or able to see his nine-year-old son for two weeks, and has found working from home difficult. 

He said that the authorities in Italy and the UK have been too slow in their response to the crisis, and while on holiday, was led to believe he was not in danger.

He said: ‘I was informed that as far they were concerned, there was no coronavirus in the Dolomites.

‘This could have been avoided, firstly with the Italian authorities being honest about the situation. I don’t think they’ve been honest at all.

‘I feel that they’ve been more worried about their ski tourism trade in the last few weeks.

‘Only now is Italy starting to lock down. It’s too late after the horse has bolted. They were allowing people like us to cross the border to Austria and then fly home.’

Speaking of the British Government’s response to the outbreak, Mr O’Dwyer said: ‘The UK government have been to slow to react to this. It seems like the majority of cases have come from Italy, yet people have been allowed to fly to and from there with no checks.

‘It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out how it’s spread.

‘If we seriously want to block this and curtail the spread we certainly need to be doing more than we are now.

‘My main concern is that you don’t get tested to see whether you’re negative.’  

Routine tests will no longer be considered for each person who has coronavirus symptoms. The current advice is to self isolate for seven days if you have any developed a cough or a high temperature.


Whole families will need to go into quarantine in the coming weeks if one of them has a temperature or a cough, Boris Johnson said yesterday.

Although the Prime Minister stressed this was not yet the official advice, he warned households that it would be ‘coming down the track’.

But Mr Johnson was clear that anyone who developed a cough or a high temperature should stay at home for a week.

They must stand at least 6ft 6ins from others in their house and sleep in a different ventilated room. They cannot go out for a walk, they should eat their meals alone in their bedroom and if they go in the garden, they should be alone.

Over the next few weeks as the outbreak nears its peak, whole families will be told to stay at home for a week even if just one of them develops a cough or fever. And in another major shift in policy, the public have been urged not to call the NHS 111 helpline if they have symptoms but to instead log on to its coronavirus website.

They were also warned that they would not necessarily be offered a home test as officials want to focus resources on detecting hospital cases.

By Sophie Borland, Health Editor for The Daily Mail 

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said they were carrying out an ‘enhanced monitoring process’ for all direct flights from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, Italy and Iran.

The Government have previously come under fire for a lack of surveillance on travellers coming in from places such as Italy. 

The spokesman added: ‘The usual public health response is in place at all airports as standard and consists of identified and exercised health pathways for dealing with any unwell passenger and agreed with local HPTs providing the public health risk assessment and the NHS acting on it.’

Further ‘enhanced monitoring measures’ for the whole of Italy were put in place on March 11. 

This means cabin crew are briefed on symptoms and what to do if someone reports that they have symptoms. 

The captain will call ahead to warn of any illness on the flight before any passengers disembark so appropriate health action at the airport.

The Manchester Evening News contacted the Italian Embassy for a response.

A spokesman said they were not in a position to comment on claims made by UK citizens.

In response to Mr O’Dwyer’s claims, Ski Total said ‘no definitive statements about safety in the mountains were made at any point.’

They said the company had provided general advice about coronavirus on its webpage since February 8.

Ski Total said on learning that two members of Mr O’Dwyer’s party had tested positive for the virus, new arrivals at their chalet were told to self-isolate.

Ski Total said in a statement: ‘As none were displaying any symptoms and felt well, the next day, on 4 March their holiday was curtailed early and the guests were brought back to the UK.

‘The chalet was closed for deep cleaning and staff asked to self-isolate as a precaution.’

Ski Total has cancelled all future holidays to the Selva region for the rest of the winter season. 

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