A 52-YEAR-old who caught coronavirus in Italy is sharing his recovery story to spread hope to the thousands of people who may be isolating with symptoms.

Phil Warburton, from Walton, tested positive for Covid-19 on March 13 after returning to Warrington from a skiing trip.

He was among the very first people to test positive in the borough, with the first confirmed case reported on March 11.

Now, four weeks on, Phil is almost back to full health and is using his experience to help reassure others.

He explained how he embarked on a group skiing trip to northen Italy during the first week of March.

Phil said: "The advice then was that it was still alright to travel since all the cases were in one region and we were flying to Turin.

"The first thing we noticed was on the plane, the first five rows were empty and we all looked at each other and thought that they must not have wanted to risk it.

"We wondered if we were doing the right thing but at that point we were committed."

During the trip, Phil was conscious to keep his face covered when he was in crowded places, and the whole group made it through without symptoms.

But, upon arriving home to his wife, Phil started to feel unwell.

He said: "I had certain symptoms at that point so I contacted the NHS 111 service online and it was a day later that they called me up to ask further questions.

"I think once they knew I had been to northern Italy they were quite keen for me to have a test.

"That was on the Monday and they made an appointment for the Friday to have a swab test in Widnes and the procedure was quite brutal to be honest.

"Instead of just using a cotton bud to swab your throat they also did it up your nose using a straw.

"They swabbed the straw as high as they could go and then obviously you can't help but sneeze- it's dangerous for them as they are standing right there.

"Other people who were on the trip who had started feeling ill contacted the NHS the day after me, but by that point they had stopped testing the public."

Just a few days later, Phil's test result came back as positive.

By now he had a fever and severe headaches and was shocked at the advice he was given.

Phil explained: "The advice they gave was that my wife could still continue to go to work.

"I asked if they were sure and passed the phone over to my wife so they could tell her but they said they were certain."

Phil's wife, who has still not had any symptoms of Covid-19, did not follow this advice and immediately closed her business as she didn’t want to put others in danger.

Phil continued: "I went pretty downhill from there and ended up with really bad flu-type symptoms.

"I couldn't get out of bed for days.

"My taste was very metallic, I couldn't smell anything and I couldn't keep anything down.

"I was trying to take paracetamol but I was also taking ibuprofen which I was told a few days later was the worst thing I could do.

"There was a full week where I was so weak I couldn't really do anything and I was at my lowest point physically and mentally.

"My neighbours have been really helping me out and it was at this point they messaged me asking if there was anything they could get for me.

"Back then, the only thing I could stomach was yoghurt and they got it and left it on my door step.

"It was the one thing that really helped bring me back, the one action that to them was nothing, but to me made a big impact.

"I was very ill for that week and then I gradually got better.

"The symptoms do really vary from person to person.

"The cough didn't come on until three weeks afterwards.

"I also had a strange tightening of the chest, as if you're wearing something that was two sizes too small, and then that just disappeared.

"The one thing that did last was the dizziness, like vertigo.

"Even four weeks later, I still have moments where I have to sit down and not do anything."

Now almost back to full health, Phil wanted to share his experience so people can understand the symptoms and that there is often a light at the end of the tunnel.

He added: "The only thing I can do to help people now, is to tell my story.

"It was very humbling with the response that came from putting a message out on Facebook about my experience, and the amounts of messages and comments.

"I'm getting better day by day."

Phil is fundraising for St Roccos Hospice with Phase Three Scooter Club after seeing the good deeds many people are carrying out to help those hit hard by the coronavirus.

Due to fundraising events getting cancelled and its charity shops closing, St Roccos' income is suffering as a result.

Phil explained: "I started the fundraising page as I realised the NHS, who are doing a fantastic job and are rightly being supported, get government funding.

"But, when the NHS can't help you in Warrington, St Roccos steps in and it needs our support."

You can donate to St Roccos by visiting justgiving.com/fundraising/phase3andfriends.