The daughter of a Derry couple who died of Covid-19 within six minutes of each other last month has said it was the family's worst nightmare when they were admitted to hospital.
Popular Greysteel couple Barney and Sarah (Blossom) McGlinchey died holding hands in the intensive care unit at Altnagelvin Hospital on January 20 after medics brought the couple together with the family's blessing.
Speaking to the BBC's Evening Extra programme, their daughter Lynne said her parents, who had been married for 55 years, both appeared to have improved since being admitted to hospital on January 7.
Her mother Blossom, aged 78, had been in ICU for seven days and Barney, aged 81, was being treated on the Covid ward.
"Mum was eating dinner and we held hope that she was getting better in ICU," said Lynne, speaking on Thursday.
Dad was in the chair watching football the Sunday before he passed. He would tell us he was closer to the door and he told us he felt he was closer to going home.
"The day after that we were told that our Dad wouldn't be coming home and they [doctors] discussed end-of-life with us," she said.
Lynne, who is one of the couple's five children, went for a ten-minute visit to her father and said the family was worried he and her mother would die alone.
"As much as we respected the tier 5 restrictions... It's really hard to think your parents are alone in a sealed-off room with strangers and you can't be with them in their final hours," she said.
"We wrote them letters and when they were fit enough they read their own letters and when they weren't the nurses read them. We explained to them that we loved them and we were proud of them, and they were doing really well.
"We kept their hope even though we knew they weren't returning," she said.
A consultant in the ward called the family to tell them their parents were on their final journey and that medics wanted to bring them together but there was a risk Barney would die on the way to ICU to be with his wife.
"Thankfully in an assessed risk he brought them together and with my sister Libby they held hands and they passed away six minutes apart," said Lynne.
It brought the family some comfort after having tried to keep their elderly parents, who had seven grandchildren, safe, she added.
"Our biggest nightmare happened on January 7 when Mum and Dad went into hospital. It was what we tried our best as a family to prevent and then we worried that they would die alone or with strangers.
"We tried our best to protect our parents. We kept our distance, we stayed away at Christmas, we listened to the medical professionals and I would urge others out there to do the same," she said.
The couple's heartbreaking double funeral was held on January 23rd at the Star of the Sea Church, Faughanvale.
Lynne and her siblings Dessie, Libby, Clare and Sarah-Jane paid tribute to the healthcare professionals who took care of their parents after setting up a fundraiser for staff on the Covid ward and intensive care unit which has raised almost £6,000.