A woman who lost both her parents after they contracted coronavirus has pleaded with the public to take seriously government advice to protect themselves.
Christopher Vallely, 79, and his wife Isobel , 77, died within 12 hours of each other at the Mater Hospital in Belfast over the weekend.
Their daughter Fiona said the family were shocked at the sudden loss of their parents, who had been married for 53 years.
She has urged the public to take seriously government advice on social distancing.
“Please, please, please everybody, please follow the public guidelines, do everything you can to protect yourself and your families because this is only going to get worse,” she told the BBC.
Mr Vallely had been taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital more than a week ago, and tested postive for Covid-19 before being transferred to the Mater, a now specialist hospital for coronavirus. He had been suffering from lung cancer.
His wife was taken to the Mater on Thursday, and died on Saturday. Her husband died in the same room that she had, just hours later. She had suffered a stroke six months ago.
“They both had underlying health issues, my dad was never going to fight terminal cancer, but my mum fought back, from six months ago, a stroke and all her other illnesses, but this, they both couldn’t fight this illness, so that shows how this is a very, very serious illness,” she said.
Ms Vallely said she was able to say goodbye to both her parents.
“I was very, very grateful (to the staff) that they let us do that under the circumstances, and we had to wear the protective gear and everything, because I know a lot of families haven’t had that chance,” she said.
“We would like to think they were conscious and could hear us.”
Ms Vallely paid tribute to the staff at the hospital and said they were doing an “amazing job and putting their lives at risk”.
“This is why everyone has to take this seriously,” she said.
With restrictions in place around funerals, Ms Vallely says her family will be unable to give their parents the planned send-off.
“This is what has broken me and my brothers and all of my family’s hearts, because we’re not going to give them the proper send-off that they both absolutely deserve,” she said.
“My dad is getting cremated because that was his wish, and my mum’s wishes were to be buried.
“It’ll be two separate, and it’s going to be hard. We were hoping to have a lovely church service for mum with all of her friends and family. And for my dad we were going to have a big party because he had such a zest for life.
“Yes, they were 79 and 77, but they were both so young at heart and young in their heads and had so much life still to live.”