A mother says she "thought she was going to die" while in hospital with coronavirus, urging everyone to take the disease seriously.

Greta Read was left unable to breathe on her own and described her experience inside Barnet Hospital as "the scariest thing ever".

Although Mrs Read stunned doctors with her recovery, she wants to use her own experience to warn and remind others of how unforgiving Covid-19 can be.

The 48-year-old, who lives in Borehamwood, was rushed to hospital on October 7 after she came down with a cough and then began feeling breathless.

Paramedics were understandably concerned because although she describes herself "as fit as a butcher’s dog", Mrs Read does have breast cancer after being diagnosed in March.

In hospital, doctors believed the mum-of-two teenage boys was suffering from either pneumonia or Covid-19.

Borehamwood Times:

Worryingly, she underwent two swab tests to see whether it was coronavirus but both tests came back negative – even though she had only been showing symptoms for a couple of days.

But a CT scan revealed Mrs Read did have Covid-19 because doctors could see the damage it had already done to her lungs. Doctors' notes confirm she was officially diagnosed with Covid.

Mrs Read said: "I was put in a coronavirus ward and they put me on 60 per cent oxygen. It was touch and go.

"The doctors wanted me to go on a ventilator but I didn’t want to."

Borehamwood Times:

Greta in Barnet Hospital

Mrs Read stuck to her guns and did not go on a ventilator - and after being treated by "amazing" doctors and given remdesivir and infused with plasma donated by Covid-19 survivors, she was able to breathe by herself again and was soon strong enough to be allowed to return home.

But it was not an experience she’d ever want to go through again.

She said: "I felt like I was on deaths door when I went into the hospital. I can’t tell you had bad it is not being able to breathe on your own. It is the most scariest thing ever. I thought I was going to die. I was that scared."

Borehamwood Times:

Greta's husband Paul and her two boys

Although she thought she was being "super vigilant", Mrs Read doesn’t know how or where she caught the virus. But her message to the public is a simple one.

She said: "We have to take this seriously. Yes I have cancer, but this comes on quickly.

"We can’t be ignorant. It can affect anybody. The virus is scary, it could have killed me. Doctors told me I was remarkable.

"More and more people were coming in to the hospital with Covid on a daily basis and they weren’t just old. They were telling me teachers were coming in."

Borehamwood Times:

Greta was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year

Mrs Read was concerned that she received two negative swab tests because it reinforces the argument that people can spread the virus unwittingly.

She said: "I could have brought the virus into a chemotherapy ward. I could have been putting people at risk and that breaks my heart. It really worries me. The doctors at Barnet Hospital were telling me they get false negatives and positives.

"I’d say just because you have a negative swab, if you’re feeling breathless, take charge of it. Absolutely call somebody. We are all in this together."

Responding to concerns about people testing negative for Covid-19 when they do actually have the virus, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “NHS Test and Trace is the biggest testing system per head of population of all the major countries in Europe, processing tests at an unprecedented rate - 270,000 a day on average over the week of October 5 – with the vast majority of the public reporting no issues at all.

"The tests are reliable, effective and as is the case with any diagnosis there is only a very small possibility of a false negative or false positive result."