A Northern Irish pastor who fell critically ill with coronavirus has warned that the deadly pathogen “wants to kill you”, adding that he is grateful to be alive.

Mark McClurg, from Co Down, was hospitalised and placed into intensive care at the Ulster Hospital near Belfast after becoming infected with the virus.

In a video posted on social media from his hospital bed, the 40-year-old father-of-three said: “This coronavirus is deadly and is dangerous.

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“Coronavirus wants to kill you.

“It wants to take all the life out of your lungs so that you cannot even breathe.”

Mr McClurg, a member of the Elim Pentecostal Church, praised the nurses and doctor who had cared for him day and night despite the risk to their own health.

“They have saved my life,” he said. “I am grateful that I am living.”

He also paid tribute to his wife, Claire, for her care and support, particularly when he was at his lowest ebb and could not even talk.

“She was the one who saw me through.”

Mr McClurg, who will soon be moving back to a ward at Ulster Hospital after his condition improved, also urged people to take the virus seriously.

“Don’t think this won’t touch you,” he said. “Don’t think for a moment that this is just a cough and a cold you will get.

“Look at me and listen.

“If you get coronavirus and you have to go into the intensive care unit, that means you are going to struggle to breathe, you could go on a ventilator, so please listen to all the advice of the Government.”

As of Tuesday, Northern Ireland had reported five deaths from coronavirus and 172 confirmed cases.

Mr McClurg added: “We must protect the heart and soul of Northern Ireland at this moment and our NHS staff.

“They need us. I have seen their faces, I have spoken to them, some have come to terms that they’re going to get coronavirus – let that sink in.

“Do your part and stay at home.”

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