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A gym owner who made headlines after refusing to close his business during lockdown has revealed he has contracted coronavirus.

Nick Whitcombe kept Body Tech Fitness, in Moreton, Wirral, Merseyside, open despite the county being plunged into Tier 3 which meant gyms were ordered to close in October.

He claimed gyms were essential to the physical and mental health of the population.

A member of the public called the police when they saw the business was still open and officers warned Mr Whitcombe he needed to shut his doors.

Shortly afterwards "seven or eight" armed officers descended on the gym and told the owner to kick out his customers and he was fined £1,000 by Merseyside Police.

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Nick Whitcombe has tested positive for coronavirus
(Image: Nick Capo Whitcombe/Instagram)

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However, when Lancashire entered Tier 3 shortly afterwards, the county was allowed to keep its gyms open, prompting an outcry from Merseyside leaders and eventually a change in policy.

Mr Whitcombe, who made appearances on TV about his case, tested positive for the virus on December 29.

He told the Liverpool Echo he has been experiencing mild symptoms including fatigue, a raised temperature and a sore throat.

Revealing the news to his 91,000 followers on Instagram, he said: "Inevitable I suppose wasn’t it…

The gym owner said he did not contract the virus while training
(Image: Nick Whitcombe/Instagram)

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"I had what I thought was an extremely mild cold, minus one night of a high temp, the only symptoms I can report are a slightly runny nose and I’ve slept an extra hour for the last nine days.

"One of my close friends has it too, similar age, vegetarian diet, non smoker, it’s hit him like a moderate flu, much harder than me.

"Point being person to person our symptoms manifest differently."

He added: "I have elderly relatives who mean the world to me who would not survive this, I have a partner with respiratory issues and would likely be hospitalised.

Armed police shut down the gym in October
(Image: Nick Whitcombe/Instagram)

"Caution is unquestionably warranted.

"It’s important for me to continue to mention in each post that although I am anti-lockdown, I am not anti-Covid."

He stressed he is not a "covid denier" after receiving online abuse from some, although he has received criticism for suggesting the risks of coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of more than 75,000 people in the UK, are "exaggerated" for healthy people.

Mr Whitcombe insists he did not contract the virus in his gym as he had been working abroad until mid December and has not been training.

He said: "The only place I’ve been is supermarkets, genuinely unsure where or who I caught it from."

Mr Whitcombe added he is planning to use £53,000 raised during a crowdfunding campaign to host an event next year to raise awareness around mental health – involving local gyms and charities.