Coronavirus isolation advice stopping UK family grieving ‘as they wish to’

The grieving family of the second person to die in the UK after catching coronavirus can't plan his funeral because they are in isolation.

The unnamed victim was an 83-year-old great-grandfather, who had recently returned from a cruise in the Caribbean and was reportedly "coughing excessively".

He had underlying health conditions and his family was present when he died at Milton Keynes University Hospital on Thursday evening about an hour after they were told he had the flu-like Covid-19.

His heartbroken relatives have been tested and told to self-isolate in case they have contracted the virus, and as a result they say they "cannot grieve him as we would wish to".

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They hit out at people who have made "hurtful comments" following his death.

His cause of death had not been confirmed, the family added, as the UK's total number of cases increased to 206 on Saturday.

They said in a statement: "We as a family have lost a truly loving and wonderful person and are trying to come to terms with this.

"He was 83-years-old and a wonderful husband, dad, grandad and great-grandad who would go to any lengths to support and protect his family.

"We can confirm that he was admitted to hospital on Monday and after observations the decision was made to remove him from the ward as a precaution to carry out more intensive tests.

"On Thursday evening it was confirmed that our loved one tested positive for coronavirus.

"He passed away shortly after being advised that he tested positive, with us all present at the hospital with him.

"Whilst he may have tested positive for having the virus, it has not been confirmed what the cause of his death was.

"As he has tested positive, we as a family have been tested and told to self-isolate as a precaution.

"This whole nightmare is not something that we or our loved ones asked for.

"As we are in isolation currently, we cannot arrange for him to be put to rest and with all the activity that is going around with regards to everyone's concerns, we cannot grieve him as we would wish to.

"People should perhaps put themselves in our shoes and think how would they feel with some of the hurtful comments that are being made.

"We would not wish this experience on anyone and we would ask that you have respect for us and allow us to grieve."

Earlier, the Guardian quoted a family member as saying: “Our concern is that the hospital were too slow to detect that our relative had symptoms similar to those of coronavirus and too slow to move him from a ward into isolation, and that that may have put a lot of people – fellow patients on the ward, staff who were looking after him and visitors who came to see him – at risk of contracting the virus from him."

The unnamed family member added: “We think they should have put him into isolation right away, as soon as he arrived, given his symptoms. That was a failure by the hospital. He was coughing a lot and had quite severe symptoms.

“Despite that, he was put on a ward with lots of other sick patients for six or seven hours before he was moved into isolation."

The man is said to have had several visitors, including children, before he tested positive for the virus.

The family member told the Guardian that relatives were told of the positive test at about 7pm on Thursday and he died about an hour later.

Medical staff and patients who had contact with the man have also been put in isolation.

A source told the Milton Keynes Citizen: “He was coughing excessively and another patient in the ward had complained to a nurse that should be checking him for coronavirus.

“The nurse told him not to worry about it and that he is being dealt with.”

The first person in the UK to die after contracting coronavirus was a woman in her 70s.

She was admitted to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Forty-two more people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK, taking the country's total to 206 on Saturday.

The Department of Health said more than 21,000 people had been tested for the virus.

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