The 61-year-old former Emmerdale actress is recovering at home after spending ten days in hospital where she tested positive for COVID-19 and feared she would not survive.
Lusardi told Good Morning Britain she and actor husband Sam Kane – who also tested positive – were struggling to breathe, but as they also had stomach problems they were told when they called 111 they did not have the disease.
She said: “We were in separate rooms, we were vomiting and had diarrhoea. When we phoned 111 they said they are not symptoms of corona [sic], which they weren’t at the time… we carried on battling through.
“They said take paracetamol, drink plenty of water. Every time we drank water we were vomiting it up until I was getting so breathless and getting quite severe chest pains.”
Lusardi revealed her son eventually persuaded her to phone 999 and when paramedics came to her house and ran tests, “I had got practically zero oxygen in my blood, they said I had to come in.”
The former glamour model said she owed her life to the staff at North Middlesex hospital, but admitted that they were scared themselves as they did not have proper protective equipment.
She said: “They were very scared to begin with, this was a while back. They have got more PPE now and they have got more stuff… in the beginning they were coming on with just plastic on and little things round their faces and running in and doing stuff and running out of my room. They weren’t prepared, they hadn’t got the gear they needed.”
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But she said she is eternally grateful to the NHS staff “for giving me my life back.”
Lusardi said: “Yesterday I sat in the garden with the sun on my face listening to the birds and I just held [son] Jack's hand and said, ‘I’m just so so glad I’m here’.”
Her husband Kane, 51, is also fully recovered.
And the former soap star urged people to follow social distancing rules.
She said: “My message to them is you are out and you are socialising with people, you might get the germs mildly yourself but you are going to give it to your mum, your sister, our grandmother, do you really want them to go through that? Self-isolate, protect the country. This will all be over quickly if we just follow the rules.”
Lusardi found fame as a glamour model before branching out into acting. She competed in Dancing On Ice in 2008 and Celebrity MasterChef in 2011.
Lusardi and Kane married in 1998 and have two grown-up children, Jack and Lucy.
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