Michele Robson was rushed into University of Durham Hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning (March 21) as she was struggling to catch her breath, and felt pain in her lungs and bones.
The mum-of-two has tested positive for covid-19 and as she fights the virus she has filmed a message from her hospital bed pleading with the public to adhere to social distancing.
Struggling to breath and barely audible, Michele, who has always suffered with mild asthma, says: “Please think twice before taking risks that affect other people.
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“I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, so please please be careful. Big gatherings shouldn’t be happening, if they do people who take part are walking virus distribution centres and will be responsible for a lot of sickness and death.
“I’m begging you please be careful, be responsible. Thank you.”
Michelle, who lives in Belmont, returned to the UK a month ago after living in Africa for five years working in gorilla conservation and helping educating people in rural communities and inner cities in Cameroon about the threat of zoonotic disease (diseases that spreads from animals to humans).
Michelle, who fostered five children in Cameroon with her husband Gilbert, told the Echo: “I just pray that my speaking up and showing that it can affect everyone will go some part in preventing people from transferring this virus through reckless contact.
“If we all unite and follow instructions about safe social distances then we can save so many lives.”
Michele was rushed into hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning (March 21). She said: “I was fading, couldn’t get any breath and was experiencing a lot of pain in my lungs and bones.
“It’s had a huge impact on me, as I’m not some one who’s used to being unwell.
“I came here out of a war zone, to create safety for myself and my family. I’m just very lucky that my new employers Dodd-Heres Ltd in Consett have been so supportive and I’m grateful for their kindness and faith in me.
“I just hope more companies in Britain have this proactive attitude to their employees during this coronavirus crisis.”
As of 9am on Sunday, March 22, 5,683 people in the UK have tested positive for the virus and 281 people have sadly died.
So far 112 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the North East including 11 cases in Sunderland and 11 cases in County Durham.
Posting on Facebook, the 52-year-old said: “I returned to the UK a month ago to start a safer life. I have been living in a country in civil crisis and it was no longer safe for me.
“The thing is we now know all governments across the world are telling us the same thing, it’s about time that people realised we all have to work together to prevent more fatalities.
“I cried yesterday when I saw photos of bikers in the centre of Rothbury, Northumberland, gathering in large numbers, shame on anyone that took part.
“Please stop this type of gathering, please don’t play Russian roulette with other peoples lives, if you act sensibly we can save lives.”