Health

Coronavirus: Family pay tribute to ‘wonderful great-grandad’

The family of a UK man who died with coronavirus have paid tribute to a "wonderful husband, dad, grandad and great-grandad".

The 83-year-old, the second person to die in the UK after contracting the virus, died shortly after testing positive in hospital on Thursday.

His family said they had lost a "truly loving person" and were unable to arrange a funeral for him because they were self-isolating.

It comes as the UK cases rose to 209.

The man, who had underlying health problems, had been admitted to Milton Keynes Hospital for another reason and spent two days in a ward before being isolated and tested for coronavirus, the hospital said.

In a statement, his family said: "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."

The family said they had been unable to grieve for him as they would have wanted.

"This whole nightmare is not something that we or our loved one 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."

The family said the cause of death had not been confirmed.

They also said they had not spoken to any media outlets before releasing their statement, "contrary to what has been reported".

"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."

The man had been travelling but had at first showed no symptoms of coronavirus, the hospital said.

Its chief executive, Prof Joe Harrison, said: "After two days in the hospital they started showing signs of deterioration and at that point we decided to isolate the patient and test them for coronavirus and unfortunately that came back as positive.

"What we were doing was looking after that patient in a bay on one of our wards and subsequent to that we have ensured all of those patients have been followed up, as have the staff, to ensure that they are tested and appropriately isolated."

He said five patients had been isolated and were awaiting coronavirus test results, while nine staff had been asked to self isolate.

The hospital said it had already carried out a review of the patient's care but determined he had been treated appropriately.

The UK's first death – a woman in her 70s who also had underlying health conditions – was confirmed on Thursday. A British man also died last month in Japan after contracting the virus on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

As of Saturday morning, there were 206 cases in the UK, with 21,460 being been tested for the virus, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Of these, 184 were in England, 16 in Scotland, four in Northern Ireland and two in Wales.

Later in the evening, Northern Ireland reported an additional three cases, taking its total to seven and bringing the number of confirmed UK cases to 209.

Earlier, England's deputy chief medical officer said the UK remained in the outbreak's "containment" phase.

Jenny Harries told the BBC a decision about the next phase of delaying the spread of the virus would depend on how fast the number of cases rose.

But she said the UK was "teetering on the edge" of sustained transmission.

The UK's strategy on responding to the virus has three phases – containment, delay, and mitigation – alongside ongoing research.

Up until now, the containment phase has involved catching cases early and tracing all close contacts to halt the spread of the disease for as long as possible.

Moving into the delay phase could see the introduction of "social distancing" measures, such as closing schools and urging people to work from home.

Dr Harries said a decision on formally moving to the next phase would depend on how quickly the number of cases rises.

Dr Harries said they needed to "balance the benefits" with minimising disruption to people's lives and the economy, as well as ensuring that they are implemented at the time when they will have the most impact.

In other developments:

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