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Eddie Irvine thought he was dying of heart disease: 'I struggled to breathe and could barely walk to the door'


Eddie Irvine

Eddie Irvine

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Eddie Irvine

STUMBLING around alone at his island home, struggling to breathe, Eddie Irvine feared he was dying from heart disease.

The former F1 racer is now convinced he was suffering the effects of being an early victim of the coronavirus outbreak.

The 54-year-old believes he contracted the virus at a packed fashion party in Italy before travelling to New York and Miami on the way to his home in the Bahamas.

By the time Eddie got to his mansion, he was hardly able to move and his feet ached so badly he could barely walk.

Eddie Irvine

"I'm sure I had coronavirus," the Co Down-born businessman told Sunday Life in an exclusive interview.

"I was in Italy the big weekend when everybody got sick.

"I flew to New York (and) I couldn't believe that they just let everybody in - no testing, no nothing.

"My friend works for United Airlines and I was like, 'Dude, there was a woman on that flight and she's coughing her guts out. How can you just let that woman on like that?'


Malaysian GP, 1999

Malaysian GP, 1999

Malaysian GP, 1999

"I walked into the States and through immigration with no temperatures testing, no nothing.

"I flew to Miami and I kept away from my workers. I had a couple of houses I was just finishing off, so I needed to keep going and I felt fine.

"I just kept away from my workers. We just did everything pretty much from a distance and used WhatsApp. Then I went to the island and I got quite sick."

Coronavirus symptoms include breathlessness and head-to-toe body aches - all familiar to Eddie.

The ex-Ferrari driver felt so unwell, it took him eight days to regain enough strength to get out of bed.

After the illness eased he stayed at his island home in the Bahamas for two months without friends, loved ones or staff.

"I really struggled to breathe and I actually thought I had bloody heart disease or something. It was so weird," he said.

"It was still early days (in the virus), so no one really knew what was going on.

"Italy hadn't even locked down by that stage - they were still wondering what was going on.

"For eight days I didn't get out of bed. I could hardly walk to the door to get outside. My feet were hurting so much and I was just out of breath."

Eddie, who grew up in Conlig near Bangor, was partying in Italy before it went into lockdown in early March in a bid to control the spread of the virus.

Italy went on to become one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, with more than 35,000 people - and counting - killed.

Dad-of-one Eddie returned to the country last week ahead of finishing work on a mansion renovation in Milan.


Eddie Irvine with his parents Edmund and Kathleen

Eddie Irvine with his parents Edmund and Kathleen

Eddie Irvine with his parents Edmund and Kathleen

He was astounded when, after testing him, doctors found no traces of coronavirus.

Eddie was so surprised he believes many people have had false readings.

"I got tested in Italy - they came up to my house, tested me there, texted me a couple of hours later and said there was no sign of the virus, so I was like, 'Wow, that's crazy'," he explained.

"They say I haven't been in contact with the virus, which I just don't believe because that weekend (in Italy) I was out every night.

"There was thousands of people in close proximity in fashion shows and parties.

"One of my best friends who works in the restaurant business, he just was kissing and hugging people for a month.

"They (also) said he didn't have it, so I think there are false negatives."

Eddie's family in Northern Ireland escaped the outbreak unscathed.

His dad Edmund was left stranded in Thailand during lockdown but, with the country having one of the lowest mortality rates in the world, there were worse places to be stuck.

Eddie's niece tested positive but had no symptoms.

Belfast Telegraph