The West Brom forward Charlie Austin has urged people to take the coronavirus outbreak seriously, after revealing he has been suffering from acute Covid-19 symptoms.

In the UK, pubs, restaurants and clubs are closing from Friday night, and the pandemic continues to affect everyday life. Sport has been hit hard with postponements, with a number of players and staff already testing positive.

Austin said he had been struggling with “symptoms [my doctor said] were consistent with coronavirus” in recent days, and stressed the importance of following government guidelines.

“Before I started feeling the symptoms on Saturday, I was on the phone to my wife Bianca’s mother. I said to her that I hoped if anyone in our family got it that it would be me,” the 30-year-old told the Daily Telegraph (£).

“I felt like I was fit and healthy and I could handle it,” Austin said. “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,” Austin added. “Not that I didn’t take coronavirus seriously. But this is extremely serious and we should take it that way.”

Austin attended last week’s Cheltenham Festival, where he suspects he contracted the virus, and has been self-isolating from his family since Sunday. The forward criticised football’s slow response to the outbreak.

“It almost took someone high up to get it for the game to think we needed to stop. If [Arsenal head coach] Mikel Arteta hadn’t tested positive, we would have played those fixtures last weekend,” Austin said. “I would rather we looked back in three or four months’ time and thought we were overcautious than thinking we could have done more.”

Austin, who joined the Championship club from Southampton in August 2019, added that he had not been tested, but self-isolated on the advice of a doctor. West Brom have said that “no other players have required testing for coronavirus”, and Austin has now made a full recovery.

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