The family of a resident of a Belfast care home who contracted coronavirus have spoken of their heartbreak at not getting to be by her side for her final moments.
Magdalene Mitchell (80) passed away on Wednesday morning.
BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan show reported that two residents in Bradley Manor, on Belfast’s Crumlin Road, were admitted to hospital after taking sick. The other resident remains in hospital.
Frances Doherty told the programme her mother was one of the residents and she first heard she had a high temperature on Thursday. She said she had been suffering dementia.
She said her condition deteriorated on Friday and she was taken to hospital and placed in isolation.
She said she was informed of her mother's death at 6am on Wednesday.
She said she did not know if they would be able to have a funeral.
“She has left behind five daughters as well as granddaughters and grand babies .. and we were not able to be by her side,” she said.
“She was in total isolation, which was totally understandable,” she said.
“People on the outside, you can keep a distance but at least you are getting to see your parent or your loved one and keep in touch.
“We could not even do that. All we could do was rely on the nurses and they were brilliant on keeping us updated.”
She added: “People think they won’t get it and are going out and coughing. They need to think of themselves, they need to look after their loved ones.
“Everyone thinks they are strong and they are not, if it is out there you are going to get it and it is just going to get worse.
Bradley Manor was put on lockdown last Tuesday March 17.
The home said the infection was caught early in the patients in its residential section through regular temperature testing of all the residents and the nominated contact of every resident was informed of the matter.
A spokeswoman for the home stressed the necessary infection prevention steps were being taken “stringently” and all staff were following the advice of the health authorities as well as undergoing regular testing before their shifts.
Staff also had to sign a declaration they did not have any of the symptoms of Covid19 before beginning work.
Cleaning and disinfecting had been stepped up in the facility and the rooms of the residents who contracted the virus had undergone a deep clean.
“We completely understand how worrying this is for families, we know they will be looking for reassurance,” the spokesperson said.
“We are taking the threat of this virus very seriously applying all possible precautions and taking the temperature of all residents at least twice daily.
“We are working closely with the Belfast Trust and the Public Health Agency and we are doing all we can to keep our residents safe but without specific testing this is as much as we can do.
"Our thoughts are with the families of these two residents and those of our whole extended family of residents at this time."
The Belfast Health Trust said the care home was under the management of a private company and was unable to comment on specific individual cases.
A spokesman added: "Responding to Covid-19 is the biggest challenge ever faced by the health service and we work with our HSC partners and individual nursing homes to ensure appropriate measures are in place to protect our patients.
"When patients contract the virus in this setting families are immediately informed, isolation procedures followed and a deep clean carried out in line with PHA guidance."
On Wednesday, health authorities confirmed there had been two more deaths, bringing to seven the number of patients who died after contracting the virus. The number of confirmed cases after testing rose by 37 to 209.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) said it was informed of the initial case which was admitted to hospital on March 18 from Bradley Manor.
"In line with the current guidance, a detailed risk assessment was completed by the PHA, and staff working in the facility were advised on the management of this situation," a spokeswoman said.
"Advice was provided on the main infection prevention control intervention to limit the spread of Covid-19 including isolation of patients, social distancing, restricting visiting and environmental cleaning and waste disposal.
"A robust daily monitoring process was put in place with the care home for monitoring of this situation."
The First Minister and deputy First Minister have warned businesses in the construction and manufacturing sectors "we will shut you down" if they do not comply with social distancing guidance.