A woman whose husband was admitted to a ward in the Ulster Hospital where coronavirus patients are treated fears he could have been exposed to the deadly virus.
Gary Sullivan (58) from Bangor, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer four years ago, was admitted to the Ulster Hospital last Friday after he developed a urinary tract infection, a side-effect of his treatment.
His wife Karen told the Belfast Telegraph: "My husband showed every symptom that he was developing another urinary tract infection on Friday morning.
"He had a high temperature, the urine in his catheter was very dark and it had a strong smell.
"We have been dealing with urinary tract infections for 18 months now. In fact, he developed sepsis twice, and as recently as two weeks ago we were all told he wasn't going to recover, but thankfully that wasn't the case.
"He has also spent time on a life support machine last year, so that is a picture of just how unwell my husband is."
Mr Sullivan was tested for coronavirus on admission to the A&E ward of the Ulster.
Mrs Sullivan explained: "He was tested seven times previously for coronavirus, and seven times all those tests came back negative.
"He was tested again on Friday, which again came back negative. He was admitted to Ward 4A, which is where the patients who do have coronavirus are treated.
"The staff on this ward told this to my husband but failed to mention it to me. He phoned me and said not to be coming up here because he is on the coronavirus ward.
"I rang the hospital back and then they said 'yes', and the explanation I was given was that there were no other beds available.
What we don't know is if he contracted coronavirus while he was on that ward and we now face two very difficult weeks waiting to see if he or I develop symptomsKaren Sullivan
"When I raised this with the staff I was told he was in an isolated ward. But the staff are not isolated, they are going from one patient to another, so any one of them could have transferred the virus to Gary."
Mr Sullivan remains in a single room in the Ulster but Mrs Sullivan said they have a tense fortnight ahead of them.
She said: "My husband is a palliative care patient, he is so vulnerable.
"He should never have been put on a ward where coronavirus patients are treated. We know he didn't have coronavirus when he was admitted onto that ward or into the hospital because the test he had on Friday confirmed that.
"What we don't know is if he contracted coronavirus while he was on that ward and we now face two very difficult weeks waiting to see if he or I develop symptoms."
A spokeswoman for the South Eastern Trust said: "We have a new ward block at the Ulster Hospital designed for full single room occupancy, which is in line with current guidance and developments in relation to infection prevention and control.
"All rooms have their own facilities. With this in mind, there is no increased risk to any patient who is in a single room as staff wear appropriate PPE to maintain safety at all times.
"If a patient meets a certain case definition, as defined by Public Health England, they will be admitted into a single room and treated as potentially having Covid until lab confirmed otherwise, the result of which can sometimes take up to 24 hours.
"This is a much safer option for the patient than remaining in a cubicle in emergency.
"Patients are placed in single room accommodation to keep them safe, in line with infection prevention and control guidelines."