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Coronavirus: Terrified Northern Ireland mum asks, 'will I ever see my boy again?'

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General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A Northern Ireland mother has been left wondering if she will ever see her son again after he was taken into intensive care with Covid-19.

Gemma, from the north coast area, gave an emotional interview to the BBC Nolan programme and said her 45-year-old son was still working as a teacher when he became seriously ill last week.

He was admitted to hospital with severe breathing difficulties on Saturday and is now in intensive care on oxygen.

As national attention is focused on the Prime Minister Boris Johnson's condition in intensive care, Gemma showed how thousands of families across the UK and the Republic are facing the same situation.

As of yesterday, there were 73 coronavirus-related deaths in Northern Ireland, with 1,255 confirmed cases.

Across the UK as a whole, there have been 5,373 deaths and 51,608 confirmed cases with 174 deaths and 5,364 confirmed cases in the Republic.

"I'm scared stiff to be honest," said Gemma.

Although her son's oxygen levels have been improving, she was told it was still "highly likely" he would need to be ventilated.

"He's a teacher so the school he was working in was nominated to take in the doctors' children," she said.

"Last week when he was in school it was said that a few of the teachers were getting sick."

She said his condition deteriorated over three days to the point where he struggled to breathe but was advised over the phone by health officials that he didn't yet need to be admitted to hospital. The family became concerned when he stopped replying to messages and phone calls on Saturday.

"I knew something was wrong," his mother said. "He knew himself how bad it was and phoned 111 on Saturday afternoon. Now he's in intensive care literally fighting for his life.

"He phoned me on Saturday night and said, 'Mum I love you. I'm in the ambulance'."

Nurses have been passing messages to the family, and yesterday morning said his oxygen levels had begun to improve.

"I cried the whole day yesterday. I never stopped crying ... it's the hardest thing, I'm here and he's there," Gemma said. "It's like a blast, a bomb exploding in your life. He has asthma - am I ever going to see my boy again?"

She thanked the "absolutely amazing" nurses caring for her son and said "every single person that I know is praying and praying".

Belfast Telegraph