AN NHS nurse died alone in his flat after desperate calls to the 111 helpline went unanswered, his heartbroken niece revealed.
Police discovered the body Donald Suelto, 51, after concerns were raised for his welfare.
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The Filipino chemotherapy nurse, who worked at Hammersmith hospital in West London, had been in quarantine with suspected Covid-19 symptoms.
Mr Suelto was told to call the NHS 111 line when his condition worsened but he later replied saying he could not get through.
He had told his elderly mother in the Philippines the previous night: “I don’t think I can fight this virus.
“It’s like a knife stabbing all over my body.”
Police discovered Mr Suelto, who had asthma and had complained about a lack of PPE, at his home in London on April 7.
His niece Emylene Suelto-Robertson, 38, said: “It’s so tragic. He was told to dial 111 but the lines were so busy. He just couldn't get through.
“He messaged a colleague at work on April 5 saying he was struggling to get through. It was the last contact anyone had.
“I was trying to contact him but he didn't answer so I expected he was already in the hospital.
"But he died before he could ring 999."
Mr Suelto, who lived alone in London and had asthma, last month wrote on Facebook: "I can't stay at home, I'm a healthcare worker."
He had told Emylene, who lives in Dunbar, Scotland, he feared becoming infected after treating a coughing patient with a high temperature.
She said: “He said that he hadn’t been given any PPE and that his manager kept telling him they were short.
“My uncle spent 18 years serving the NHS and has paid the ultimate price.
"At first we didn't even know where his body was taken and we still don't death certificate.
“We are waiting patiently but it is not right."
NHS England declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: "We are very saddened by Donald’s death and our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and colleagues at this especially difficult time.
"We strictly follow national guidance on the use of personal protective equipment. Donald was not working in an area for Covid-19 patients.”
A fundraising page has been set up in memory of Donald here.
Today's coronavirus death toll rose to 16,509 after 449 more fatalities were recorded in the lowest increase for a fortnight.
The last time the daily death toll was that low was two weeks ago on April 6 when 439 fatalities were reported.
While there is often a drop in Monday's figures due to a lag in reporting over the weekend, the new tally comes as a government adviser yesterday said the UK had probably passed the first coronavirus peak.
However, infections have continued to grow with 4,676 positive tests bringing the total number of cases to 124,743, according to the Department of Health.
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