A man who caught coronavirus has spoken of his experience and the symptoms he developed in the hope of helping others recognise the signs.

Shiraz Maher says he thought if he got the virus he would simply be able shake it - but says whoever originally referred to it as the flu was doing everyone a 'great disservice', labelling it a 'nasty, horrible illness'.

The 38-year-old, with no underlying health conditions, began having symptoms two weeks ago when he had a mild fever which went very quickly.

Unsure if he had coronavirus, he believed it had come and gone as he felt better until, after a short delay, his 'lungs started packing up and my chest got very tight'.

Describing the cough which then developed, he said: "[It] was dry and unlike anything I've ever had before. It was much more extreme and pronounced than a dry cough you might have during a bout of the flu.

He said he's lost several days of his life to coronavirus (stock image)

"It feels like there's something deeply lodged within your lungs, that they're (violently) trying to eject.

"Of course, there's nothing to actually eject. The resulting cough is dusty, dry and painful.

"Much more scary is that you're unsure of when you'll stop coughing. You have no control over it. There were times I was worried I'd start vomiting because the coughing was so severe."

The cough also led to severe headaches, and when it began to ease his lungs remained in distress and struggled to draw in breath for hours at a time.

He says the 'particularly cruel' nature of coronavirus means recovery is not linear, meaning there are times he started to feel better before it got worse again.

Emergency services are being pushed to their limits

After taking his own blood pressure, doctors he knew advised him it was dangerously high and he should ring 999 - but ultimately the ambulance service were unable to respond to his call.

He asked others only to call for an ambulance in an 'absolute emergency' and also be prepared to take decisive action yourself as the 'superb' emergency services are struggling to cope with demand.

Friends with medical training offered advice to lower his blood pressure, and his cough and chest pains began to ease, only to be replaced with 'crazy abdominal pains and headaches'.

Two weeks after his first symptoms, he says he finally feels like he is starting to beat it, but remains far from being 100 per cent.

"Coronavirus appears to have a completely different trajectory in different people," he said on Twitter. "I can't spot a pattern.

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"Some are shaking it off relatively easily. Others are suffering very badly. The most difficult part of this is the extent to which it takes hold within your lungs.

"I've lost several days of my life to this illness. Many, many other people will lose their lives to it.

"This virus continues to spread everywhere and you - literally, you - can help stop it with the most basic of efforts. Wash your hands. Stay at home. Do it now."