West Brom striker Charlie Austin has urged people to take the coronavirus outbreak seriously after being forced into a period of self-isolation by symptoms consistent with the illness.
With death tolls across Britain and Europe rising and pubs, restaurants and clubs across the United Kingdom closing from Friday night, the pandemic continues to affect everyday life.
Sport has been hit hard with postponements across all domestic football, with a number of players and staff already testing positive for Covid-19.
“Before I started feeling the symptoms on Saturday I was on the phone to my wife Bianca’s mother and I said to her that I hoped if anyone in our family got it that it would be me,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“I felt like I was fit and healthy and I could handle it. A week later and I would say to anyone, even those in their 20s and 30s – ‘Don’t take it lightly – it’s serious’.
“I get that people who haven’t got it are going about their lives. Last week, I was living my life.
“Not that I didn’t take coronavirus seriously. But this is extremely serious and we should take it that way.”
Austin felt that football needed a high-profile name to catch the virus before it was taken seriously, adding: “It almost took someone high up to get it for the game to think, ‘Oh actually, we need to stop’.
“I would rather we looked back in three or four months’ time and thought we were overcautious than look back thinking that we could have done more.”
West Brom later said that “no other players have required testing for coronavirus”, while Austin has now made a full recovery from his symptoms.