A dad-of-two and one of Britain’s longest-running coronavirus patients has finally returned home after 179 days of NHS treatment.
Anil Patel, 63, was given a send-off by hospital staff before finding a socially-distanced welcome party with banners and balloons outside his home.
Footage shows Anil being applauded by family and friends as his stretcher was wheeled out of the ambulance on Saturday afternoon.
He has now spoken of his relief to be back at home and to be able to enjoy a meal of khichdi – made of rice, lentils and yoghurt – made by wife Darshee.
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Anil said: ‘It’s awesome to be home, I can’t describe it. I was overwhelmed to see the welcome party, then all I was looking for was my wife’s food. She’s a brilliant cook, it tasted fantastic.
‘Then I had a nice night’s sleep in my own home. I feel like I’ve been given a second life and I only want to be positive. I’ve missed out on a lot with my family and now I just want to make the most of the time I have with them.’
The building manager has arrived home just in time for youngest daughter Aneeka’s 29th birthday tomorrow.
He previously told Metro.co.uk how his ordeal began in April when he his legs ‘turned to jelly’ and he collapsed at his home in Chadwell Heath, East London.
Anil spent 149 days in King George and Queen’s hospitals before being moved to an NHS rehabilitation centre at Goodmayes Hospital.
His full recovery could take up to a year and he is not reuniting with extended family as England goes into month-long lockdown.
‘Even as I was coming home I could see people out there just don’t care, they just can’t be bothered,’ Anil said. ‘It’s just simple things like wearing a mask. People might think this won’t happen to them, but it can happen to anyone.
‘It’s not a joke. I was lucky, not everybody is. I would say to these people, please, change your behaviour. You might not catch it but you might give it to someone else, such as someone elderly in your family.’
Having spent his first four months in intensive care, including two under sedation, Anil has a dim view of conspiracy theorists, anti-maskers and others who believe the virus is a hoax or has been over-exaggerated.
‘It wasn’t just me that was suffering,’ he said. ‘Across from my bed were people suffering, some of them even worse than I was, and I was thinking, “God, please help them”. They were suffering so much I couldn’t handle it sometimes.
‘They were shouting for doctors and nurses even though some of them could hardly speak. My girls and my wife suffered a lot too, especially when I was under sedation, they didn’t know what was happening.’
Anil won hearts after appearing from his hospital bed on Good Morning Britain, where he broke off from his replies to enquire about the well-being of Kate Garraway’s husband, Derek Draper, who has been struggling with ongoing health issues resulting from the virus.
On Saturday, she was reported by The Sun as saying that his first word after being struck down by Covid-19 was ‘pain’.
‘I’m still praying for him, he’s in my thoughts all the time,’ Anil said.
‘That’s why I said to Kate he’ll be alright. If he’s lasted this long, he’s a fighter.’
I don’t want anyone to suffer like I have
The West Ham season ticket holder believes the key to combating Covid-19 is down to people taking simple precautions, such as social distancing, washing hands and avoiding mass gatherings.
‘I’ve got a lot of respect for the NHS now, after being with them for so long, I realise how hard they work,’ he said.
‘My message is just to, please, be careful.
‘I don’t want anyone to suffer like I have.’
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