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Coronavirus: George Alagiah says cancer gives him ‘an edge’ as he reveals COVID-19 diagnosis

Newsreader George Alagiah has revealed he has tested positive for coronavirus, but says living with cancer has helped him get through.

“If I can live with cancer, I can certainly live with COVID-19,” the BBC presenter said.

Alagiah, 64, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in April 2014 and again in December 2017.

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Absolutely gutted. After talking to colleagues and doctors I’ve decided to stay away from the newsroom. I’m on a few weeks cancer treatment break at the moment but, on a balance of risks, we all decided I must heed the advice for those with underlying health issues.

— George Alagiah (@BBCAlagiah) March 17, 2020

He announced earlier this month that he would stop appearing on air from the studio following advice from doctors and colleagues, as cases of coronavirus started to dramatically increase in the UK.

He said he was “absolutely gutted” but that he did not want to risk it due to his underlying health issues.


Now, speaking about his coronavirus diagnosis, he told BBC News At Six’s Sophie Raworth: “I don’t want to trivialise because I seem to have had a mild dose, but actually, the very fact that we (cancer patients) are living with cancer I think gives us an edge.

“We’ve confronted those difficult, dark moments in our life.

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“And in some ways, I think that we, those of us living with cancer, are stronger because we kind of know what it is like to go into something where the outcomes are uncertain.

“And I certainly feel that having had that experience, in my case six years as a cancer patient, I went into this feeling actually quite strong, if I can live with cancer, I can certainly live with COVID-19.”

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Alagiah’s wife Fran has also experienced coronavirus symptoms, he said.

“She’s been through it a little bit and it’s kind of lasted a bit longer.

“There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for how this plays out in individuals.

“I don’t want to make light of it, because right now, Sophie, you and I both know there are people out there who are really finding this tricky, families going through a very anxious time.”

The number of coronavirus cases around the world continues to rise.

Many well known faces have tested positive for the disease, including Hollywood stars Tom Hanks and Idris Elba, and Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.


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