A 32-year-old woman has become the latest person in Northern Ireland to die after contracting Covid-19.
Andreea Maftei, who lived in Ballymena but was from Romania, passed away in hospital on Thursday.
The young woman was well-known in the Co Antrim town as an employee of Nobel Cafe on Church Street.
Her father Mircea Serban, who is from Romania, posted on social media that his daughter had passed away due to the coronavirus.
He said Andrea was “killed by this unfortunate virus that killed hundreds of thousands of people.”
Originally from the Romanian city of Tecuci, Mrs Maftei is survived by her husband of almost seven years, Ovidiu, who works in construction.
Devastated staff at the cafe were today coming to terms with the loss of their “dear friend and colleague” as floral tributes to Mrs Maftei were left outside the premises.
The business had been closed for 24 hours earlier this week for a thorough deep clean after the positive case was identified.
Mrs Maftei had been self-isolating and was not in work at the time.
Nobel confirmed on Wednesday that all other staff members had been tested and returned a negative result.
The business has today stressed that both the Public Health Agency and Environmental Health officers had concluded that Mrs Maftei contracted the virus due to a community based outbreak and not through their food premises.
Posting on social media Nobel said: “Our hearts go out to Andrea’s loving husband Ovidiu, her parents, grandparents and family circle.
“Andrea worked with us for twelve fantastic years, not only was she a trusted employee but a very loyal friend. We are astounded at the news and utterly heartbroken.
“Unfortunately, Andrea has been taken from us under horrendous circumstances.
“We have sought legal advice and we will not tolerate disrespect or online abuse towards this situation.
“We ask you to be kind as we grieve the loss of Andrea and what she meant to us.”
Mrs Maftei is the second member of staff Nobel has lost in recent months following the death in June of Roisin O’Neill (66) following a battle with cancer.
Paying tribute, Nobel added: “We know Roisin will be waiting for Andrea and we ask her to look after her.
“We are completely and utterly heartbroken. We will miss you forever. We can’t put it into words.
“Out of respect for Andrea and the shock this has caused for our staff we will be closed today and tomorrow.”