An NHS nurse who died after contracting coronavirus would still be alive today if he had been given proper protective equipment, his family believe.

Thomas Harvey, a healthcare assistant at North East London NHS Foundation Trust, had been unable to eat for several days and struggled to breathe after catching COVID-19, two of his children told Sky News.

The father-of-seven contracted the virus after treating a patient with the disease on his ward, according a Go Fund Me page which raised more than £13,000 for his family.

Mr Harvey’s daughter Tamira and son Thomas Jr believe their father was let down after claiming he was not given proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

He was never even tested and we haven’t been either, Tamira said.

[The government] knew the severity [of the virus] before anyone else did. They could have prevented this in so many ways.

Mr Harvey, 57, died on Sunday after collapsing in the bathroom of his east London home.

Thomas Jr said his father hadn’t eaten for eight days and the last few days he couldn’t even speak properly because he couldn’t breathe.

He was having to communicate with hand gestures, he said.

Mr Harvey’s family have now voiced concerns for his widow who is also a health worker and has asthma.

I don’t even want her to go outside the house, never mind go to work, Thomas Jr said.

I can’t really explain it…but knowing that my father could still be here….if certain things had been done, is very hard.

The organiser of the Go Fund Me appeal for Mr Harvey’s family said he was a devoted member of the NHS for over 20 years and loved his job to the fullest.

He looked after all his patients to the best of his ability and was loved by many, they said.

He was a cherished colleague, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a best friend.

Unfortunately after treating a COVID-19 patient on his ward, he contracted the virus and passed away suddenly after fighting for his life for nearly two weeks.

Thomas leaves behind his wife of 22 years, seven children and three grandchildren.

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North East London NHS Foundation Trust insisted the hospital has been following national PPE guidance.

A spokesman told the Hackney Gazette: At the time Thomas went off sick and self-isolated there were no symptomatic patients on the ward.

The trust’s chief executive, Professor Oliver Shanley, confirmed Mr Harvey had COVID-19 and paid tribute to him, saying he was a dear and valued colleague and his death was a huge loss to the NHS.

On Wednesday, it was confirmed leading NHS doctor Alfa Saadu had died after contracting coronavirus two weeks ago.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt called the deaths of the two NHS workers tragic.

These are true heroes, he said.

They could have stayed at home and protected themselves but put themselves back into the fray to save lives.

(c) Sky News 2020: Coronavirus: NHS nurse who died ‘would still be alive if given proper protective equipment’