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Do not lift lockdown too early, pleads woman who lost both parents in space of three days


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Husband and wife Ignatius (89) and Mary (86) O’Connell died from Covid-19

Husband and wife Ignatius (89) and Mary (86) O’Connell died from Covid-19

Husband and wife Ignatius (89) and Mary (86) O’Connell died from Covid-19

A woman who lost her mum and dad to coronavirus in the space of three days has urged Stormont not to lift lockdown restrictions too soon, as her family has been left with "nothing".

Bronagh O'Connell was speaking after the death of her parents Ignatius (89) and Mary (86).

Mr O'Connell passed away on April 14, before his wife died at their Strathmore Park home in north Belfast on April 17.

They were laid to rest together on Monday in the village of Carrigart in Co Donegal, where they enjoyed many summers together.

Mrs O'Connell was head of art at Dominican College, Fortwilliam, while her husband was principal of St Augustine's secondary school on the Ravenhill Road before moving to St Joseph's teacher training college.

The couple would have been married 60 years this August, having met in the 1950s while teaching in Ballycastle. They have two daughters, Bronagh and Aine.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Bronagh said that losing her parents in such a short period of time has left an "indescribable" void.

"We have a very small family and to lose an entire generation in one fell swoop is just overwhelming," she said.

Bronagh explained that when the coronavirus outbreak began she brought both her parents to stay at her Randalstown home so they had less chance of catching it.

However her father, who suffered from Alzheimer's, began to develop symptoms of a chest infection and was prescribed an antibiotic by a GP.

They were warned that if it had no effect within 48 hours then they must contact their GP again.

Praising the GPs in Salisbury Medical Centre and the Covid-19 team from Grove Wellbeing Centre, Bronagh said they had gone above and beyond the call of duty.

"The GP said to get them back to their home in Belfast and they would take things from there after the antibiotic didn't work," Bronagh added. "They asked if we wanted to nurse them at home. My daddy had Alzheimer's and if they both went to hospital we wouldn't have been able to nurse them or visit them, and they would have died on their own."

After arriving at their home in Belfast Mrs O'Connell developed the same symptoms her husband had just three days later, but she was in a much worse condition.

Following the death of her father Bronagh was advised to be tested for Covid-19 and the result came back positive.

Thankfully the community midwife is making a full recovery at home. Due to the current restrictions at funerals, only a few family members were able to take the long drive to Donegal, but with the roads being deserted Bronagh felt it was like the path was open for her parents "to go to Heaven".

"I don't think we have grieved at all yet," she added.

"You just do the functional things, but mummy and daddy are constantly in our minds.

"There was a Mass but nobody was allowed to attend and the coffins weren't allowed in the chapel at all.

"The priest told me that it was the first time in his professional life that he buried a husband and wife together."

Urging Stormont not to lift the lockdown too soon, Bronagh used her own family's loss as an example of what can happen.

"We have no mummy and daddy and granny and grandad anymore," she said.

"I know people are restricted being in lockdown, but when I look at my mummy and daddy, they got sick and they went nowhere.

"I think when the lockdown is lifted we will see a rise in deaths as people will go crazy.

"People aren't abiding to the regulations as well as they should. If the lockdown is lifted too soon we will have a pandemic."

Belfast Telegraph