One of the first people in Ireland to contract Covid-19 has told how he only suffered mild symptoms while his wife fell seriously ill.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Seán o'Rourke, Declan Connolly, from Galway, said that he and his wife Debbie, who are in their mid-50s, picked up the virus on a ski holiday in Italy.

They learned after they returned home that one of their friends had tested positive for coronavirus after which they began to self-isolate, he said.

Mr Connolly said his wife Debbie was confirmed to have the virus on 6 March - and he tested positive the following day.

He said they were both immediately admitted to separate isolation units in University Hospital Galway, where his wife Debbie is still being treated, after 18 days.

"My symptoms were mild to moderate, but Debbie was very sick. I am virtually fine at this stage. I spent a week in isolation unit. Debbie is still in hospital after 18 days.

"She is doing an awful lot better now and she should be discharged early this week. She had a much rougher time than I did. She developed viral pneumonia, it was very serious. Her breathing was very badly affected."

Mr Connolly remarked that his wife Debbie "never gets a cold, never gets flu".

He said friends of the couple, who were also on holiday with them in Italy, also tested positive for the virus, and experienced "mild to moderate symptoms", he said.

Mr Connolly said he had been planning on running a marathon just days before he was diagnosed.

He described being treated in the isolation unit, as "not a nice place to be".

"The staffs are fabulous but it is not a very nice place to be. Once you're there, you're really in isolation. All you're seeing are their eyes behind their goggles. 

"Every time a doctor or nurse comes in to assess you there is a huge amount of work involved so a lot of the consultation takes place over the phone, when they're standing outside your room."

He said his wife Debbie "hasn't seen a human face in 18 days" and that all contact that he has had with her has been by phone. 

"Technology really comes into its own. We have been keeping in touch on Whatsapp and Facetime."

Mr Connolly said he has still been in isolation at home, but he said if he remains symptom free that he is "hoping to go back into circulation later this week".