Coronavirus: James O'Brien caller reveals he cannot afford to self-isolate in a powerful call

13 March 2020, 15:26 | Updated: 14 March 2020, 08:53

By Fiona Jones

This is the moving moment a caller opened up to James O'Brien about having coronavirus symptoms but not being able to self-isolate as his family, who already "go without", will not be able to cope.

This HGV driver Andy told James he'd picked up a dry cough and shortness of breath on Monday but simply can't afford to take two weeks off.

"I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place because I can't afford to take time off but at the same time I deliver to supermarkets, I deliver to warehouses," Andy said.

James reflected, "As of yesterday you should be self-isolating with those symptoms."

Read more: the latest government advice on when to self-isolate

He agreed but said he's not financially able: "Me and my partner we have a child as well and he suffers from quite bad asthma. But if I take a day off we are living hand to mouth every week."

"There's weeks where me and my partner go without to make sure our son has school meals, or whatever he needs for PE or whatever he needs for school, or any activities that he's doing.

"If I take one day off for me it's worth £90. I get paid by the day," Andy said, sharing that sick pay is not nearly as much as a week's wage.

He said his "head would have to be hanging off" before he took a day off work.

James said he can neither condemn nor condone Andy because he is describing "a really uncomfortable reality" that many could face.

The number of coronavirus cases in the UK has risen to 798 from 590 - a rise of 208 in the largest day-on-day increase since the start of the outbreak.

Read more: the latest coronavirus updates LIVE