- SKY NEWS - JUNE 8, 2021 - David Mercer -
Graham Horsfall was told by medics he had just a 16% chance of survival and is still barely able to walk after months in hospital.
A 34-year-old father who has spent nearly five months in hospital after he almost died with COVID has told of his "blind panic" after the virus left him "gasping for air" - and he is urging the government to be cautious over the lifting of all restrictions.
Graham Horsfall has been a patient at Warrington Hospital since 16 January after contracting coronavirus during the peak of the second wave, and is still barely able to walk.
The IT consultant, who has no known underlying health condition, spent more than four months in an intensive care unit (ICU) and was told by medics he had just a 16% chance of survival.
As the government considers whether to stick with its plan to remove all COVID restrictions on 21 June amid a rise in cases linked to the Indian (Delta) variant, Mr Horsfall has urged ministers to continue with some measures including rules on face masks.
"I think they should be cautious," he told Sky News.
"I wouldn't just go: 'Right okay, back to normal.'
"They could pick and choose things that could be relaxed a bit more, but also keep an eye on it.
"I think masks are here to stay for a long time... and they should be really.
"You're not going to get rid of (the virus). It is going to come back again as it evolves and mutates as a disease."
Mr Horsfall has urged people to take coronavirus seriously after challenging COVID conspiracy theorists about their views online - including members of his own family.
"I've got family members on Facebook saying it's all a conspiracy and a government plot to keep us all indoors and reset the economy," he said.
"People are losing people day in, day out. It's affecting people long-term. It affects everybody in different ways.
"I've seen people on Facebook saying: 'No one I know has had it.' I message them and say: 'Well now you do.'"
Mr Horsfall, who has a five-year-old son called Ollie and six-year-old daughter named Lily, began isolating at home in January after a colleague contracted COVID.
Three days later, he began coughing before his condition deteriorated and he started to "gasp for air".
His wife Emma called for an ambulance and he was rushed to Warrington Hospital, where he continues to be treated today.
"All of a sudden I couldn't breathe," Mr Horsfall said. "It was really scary.
"At that point, they told me they're going to have to put me on a ventilator because I need more oxygen.