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Daughter of patient who died with Covid-19 asks how it got into hospital

John Fleming died at Craigavon Hospital on Thursday night after testing positive for the virus.

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Two patients connected to the Haematology Ward at Craigavon Hospital have died after testing positive for Covid-19 (Niall Carson/PA)

Two patients connected to the Haematology Ward at Craigavon Hospital have died after testing positive for Covid-19 (Niall Carson/PA)

Two patients connected to the Haematology Ward at Craigavon Hospital have died after testing positive for Covid-19 (Niall Carson/PA)

The daughter of a patient who died after contracting Covid-19 has queried how it got into Craigavon Hospital.

John Fleming, 79, from Co Armagh died on Thursday evening.

He was one of two patients who died at the hospital in recent days after testing positive for the virus.

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A general view of Covid-19 signage at the entrance to Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

A general view of Covid-19 signage at the entrance to Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

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A general view of Covid-19 signage at the entrance to Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

A third patient, who had been discharged, also tested positive and died, although the virus was not the primary cause of death.

Health Minister Robin Swann described the deaths as “extremely distressing and disturbing”, and called for a “thorough and expeditious investigation”.

Mr Fleming’s daughter Yvonne Stewart described her father as suffering from bone cancer but said he had been given a life expectancy of 10 years.

He had bone cancer, the prognosis was 10 years he could live with this cancer, Covid has now robbed us of thatYvonne Stewart

“He fought really strong and hard, he gave it everything but when I went into see him he said, ‘I didn’t bargain for this, I don’t want to die, I’m afraid of dying. It’s not the cancer that’s killing me, it’s Covid’,” she told the BBC.

“He asked me to tell his story because he doesn’t want another family to go through what we have been through.

“He had bone cancer, the prognosis was 10 years he could live with this cancer, Covid has now robbed us of that.

“What I would like to know and what my mother would like to know is how the virus got through the hospital’s defences into his ward.

“We can’t get our head round it.”

It's concerning to us that even in an area where there are very strict measures and where it is constantly checked and audited that this virus is so contagious that it can still manifest itself thereMaria O'Kane

Southern Trust medical director Maria O’Kane said a review is being undertaken to investigate how the virus got into the hospital.

“I can completely understand what her concern is in relation to this, I can’t say it strongly enough, we are extremely sorry that this has happened,” she said.

“Haemotology is an area where I know that they are always very particular about infection prevention and control … it’s concerning to us that even in an area where there are very strict measures and where it is constantly checked and audited that this virus is so contagious that it can still manifest itself there.”

The Co Armagh hospital is battling outbreaks in its Emergency Department, Haemotology Ward and Ward 3 South.

The Southern Trust announced on Friday that two patients connected to the Haematology Ward, who had tested positive with Covid-19, had died within the last 48 hours.

“We are profoundly sorry about these deaths and extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of those who have passed away,” the Trust said in a statement.

“A third patient who had been treated on the Haematology Ward was discharged home and has since sadly passed away with a Covid-19 positive diagnosis, but this was not the primary cause of death.”

The total number of patients connected to the Haematology Ward at Craigavon Area Hospital who have tested positive remains at 14.

Seventeen members of staff have tested positive and are currently off and self-isolating.

A total of 42 staff members have been identified as potential contacts and are currently self-isolating.

The ward remains closed to new admissions.

The Trust said there are no further cases of the virus in the Emergency Department, which it described as operating as normal.

On Ward 3 South, two members of staff and one patient have tested positive, while 14 staff members are currently self-isolating.

In total, there are currently 56 staff who are connected with clusters at Craigavon Area Hospital who are off work and self-isolating.

“There are other staff across the Trust self-isolating, and these are a mix of clinical and non-clinical staff,” the Trust added.

“This will generally relate to family/social contacts where guidelines require a period of 14-day self-isolation.

“This has been ongoing since the start of the pandemic and we expect will continue throughout the winter.”

Mr Swann said: “My deepest sympathies go to the families and friends of those who have passed away.

“The Southern Trust has made clear that a detailed investigation is ongoing following the clusters at the hospital.

“This situation demands a thorough and expeditious investigation.

“Patients and bereaved families are entitled to answers.

“I will continue to closely monitor the management of these clusters and will be receiving updates from the Trust.”

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