A man who is believed to have coronavirus but mistook his early symptoms for allergies has warned people to take the pandemic outbreak seriously.

Justin Wilhite, 39, from the California capital of Sacramento, took to Twitter to describe his experience with the deadly virus, which has now recorded 200,000 confirmed cases globally.

It's thought the number of cases could be much higher, as there aren't enough tests being conducted.

One of the people who hasn't been tested is Mr Wilhite.

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He told an affiliate of the American broadcaster ABC that his doctor said there was a lack of tests but the doctor believed he had coronavirus, after earlier treatment for the regular flu didn't do anything.

That could be because, as Mr Wilhite pointed out on Twitter, the coronavirus is very different.

"This isn't the flu. We all pretty much know the flu," he said.

"Think deeper, think lung pain. It's hard to visualise but think when you breathe cold air and that pain before your lungs warm back up. Kinda like that I guess," Mr Wilhite wrote.

He is also a Type 1 diabetic, but aside from that he said he's "very healthy", or at least he was around two weeks ago.

"March 4th I began getting a headache and I could feel my lungs, which is weird. But everything is blooming so I chalked it up to allergies. My breathing became progressively more laboured and began to hurt," he said.

He went to the hospital last Friday after he "nearly passed out for no apparent reason" and breathing became painful.

Justin Wilhite has warned coronavirus is not like the flu. Photo / Supplied
Justin Wilhite has warned coronavirus is not like the flu. Photo / Supplied

The hospital gave him flu drugs and an inhaler and told him to come back if he felt worse, which he later did.

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By Tuesday, "walking to the bathroom (was) like running a marathon" and the headaches wouldn't go away.

The inhaler also didn't help his "angry" lungs because it just opened them up and hurt more.

Mr Wilhite remains in quarantine, but his viral Twitter thread attracted a lot of attention.

This morning he did an almost one-hour livestream, where he addressed the media attention.

He said he's been doing interviews with local and national media and wanted to "get out in front of it", saying some segments of the media, particularly at the national level, had been asking him "leading the witness" questions.

He said he wanted to address it ahead of time to avoid being used for political means one way or the other, presumably over a lack of testing equipment that is raising questions in the US, as celebrities and athletes seem to get quickly tested while ordinary Americans are told they don't qualify.

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"I'm just a normal married guy with three kids ... everyone has been 100 per cent nice ... I just wanted to get in front of it. To the President of the United States, to Governor Gavin Newsom, to the Mayor of Sacramento and the town in which I live Rancho Cordova: With every interview I've done I have unequivocally stated that this is an unprecedented thing in American history," he said.

While Mr Wilhite isn't a doctor he said he studies medical information as a passion project.

"Having some medical knowledge a lot of these things make sense to me ... I'm coming from a small place of knowledge: I believe what you are doing is 100 per cent the right call and I have unequivocally stated in all my statements and all my interviews: The lack of resources is not the government's fault."

To help pick his spirits up a bit, Mr Wilhite's baseball team the Oakland Athletics has offered to let him throw out the ceremonial first pitch of their season, whenever the season actually begins.

But until then he has one piece of advice for people who still aren't taking the pandemic seriously.

"Don't be a moron. Stay home!"

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