The tragic 20-year-old soccer coach who is one of the youngest known coronavirus victims had been sent home twice while seeking help — told by his doctor that there was “no need to worry,” according to his family.
Spanish youth coach Francisco Garcia — who would have turned 21 in October — initially thought he had a common cold when he fell ill on March 6, his stepfather, Juan Fernandez, told The Sun.
“He had a sore throat but he didn’t have a temperature,” Fernandez said, with his stepson seeing his doctor in Malaga three days later.
“His doctor told him to take paracetamol and sent him home and said there was no need to worry.”
They took him to a different health center the following day — just for him to be sent home again, this time with antibiotics, the grieving relative told the UK paper.
“By the next day he couldn’t stand up properly and he had a fever,” Fernandez said, saying they drove Francisco to Carlos Haya Hospital where he was immediately admitted and put on a ventilator.
“That was the last time Irene and I saw him,” the stepdad said, referring to Francisco’s mother, Irene Gomez, 42, who The Sun says was too devastated to talk.
“We knew coronavirus was killing people – but we never thought it would kill Francis,” he told the paper.
Garcia, a youth team coach at Malaga club Atletico Portada Alta, was initially diagnosed with pneumonia before testing positive for coronavirus.
A day later, blood work showed he also had leukemia, his family said. He finally died Sunday, less than a week after he first sought help.
COVID-19 meant his loved ones were unable to see him to pay their last respects — and he was even “taken to the cemetery without us being able to say goodbye to him,” the stepdad said.
“I’m sure it was the coronavirus that took him so quickly,” he told The Sun.
“We’re proof that this virus needs to be taken deadly seriously.”
He said the family was “devastated and still in a state of shock.”
“A fortnight ago we were a normal family,” Fernandez said. “Now I’m stuck indoors with my wife and my mother-in-law, grieving and worrying if we’ve all got coronavirus too.”