A “healthy” dad died from coronavirus days after a panicked phone call to his heartbroken son about a cough.

James Fitzgerald, 79, suddenly became unwell with Covid-19 during the first lockdown last April, and just over a week later he tragically died, Liverpool Echo reports.

His son Mick, 40, bravely detailed how he and his siblings had to cope as their dad gradually slipped away due to the virus.

In his last days, James remained lucid and was perhaps unaware of how serious his health had become, as his children living in Merseyside took turns to pay emotional final trips to see him in the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

Son Mick said: “Dad had an active social life, he had a few health issues, but nothing out of the norm.

“On April 8, dad called me panicking as he had a cough, and thought he had Covid, and by the 14th when he was really unwell, he went to hospital.

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James had a love of singing karaoke and going to the casino
(Image: Liverpoool Echo)

“He’d speak to us on the phone and then it was confirmed he had the virus, and sepsis and pneumonia.

“Dad needed oxygen and stepped-up level of care and it was heartbreaking to go in and see him.

“My brother FaceTimed the family when he went in and we all told dad we were rooting for him and that was one his last conversations with the family, gasping for breath.

“I don’t think he thought he was going to die – we were all telling him how much we loved him.

“The next day he took a bad turn, it was very strange to see him so unwell, but still lucid, I was allowed to stay a few hours with him, and I fed him his breakfast, but then had to come home.

James was also a granddad-of-eight who had four great-grandchildren
(Image: Liverpoool Echo)

“It was horrendous, a living nightmare.

“He died on April 17, 2020.”

James was described as a sociable and hugely-loved man who played poker twice a week, went to the casino and enjoyed going out to sing karaoke.

He was also a granddad-of-eight who had four great-grandchildren.

An 80th birthday celebration had previously been planned for James with more than 100 people expected to attend, but last November, it was instead a very different occasion.

Mick, an NHS worker, added: “We don’t know where he got Covid from, he’s on the top floor of the accommodation, it could have been when he took the bins out, or used the lift.

“But we don’t know, that’s just the cruelty of the pandemic.

“It’s especially heartbreaking as he was so healthy.”

The Fitzgerald family are part of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, which now represents more than 2,500 people who have repeatedly asked for a meeting for Boris Johnson.

They are pushing for a judge-led independent coronavirus inquiry.

Last July, Boris Johnson did commit to an “independent inquiry” into the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister said it was “not the right time” for an investigation but there would “certainly” be one “in the future” so lessons could be learned.

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