Coronavirus: Family's warning after 'kind, loving' father dies alone in hospital

Tuesday 24th March 2020 10:00 GMT

But his family remember the 82-year-old retired bus driver as larger than life, an active father and grandfather who was known to everyone in his community in Birmingham as the driver of the number 16 bus.

"He was a really friendly guy, really outgoing, a kind and loving father," his daughter Cherelle, 32, told Sky News.

She was speaking from the doorway of her home in Quinton as she was forced to self-isolate following her father's diagnosis.

His illness came as a shock to the family. He had diabetes but was otherwise fit and well - and he still went to the gym and swam regularly.

"He was just sounding a bit confused," Cherelle, who is a nurse, recalls.

"That sparked us to take him to the hospital because we did query that he'd had a stroke and then once he'd got into hospital they said he had pneumonia and then you could see the symptoms after they diagnosed him, so his breathing and stuff had changed."

Because she works on the frontline of the NHS, she knew protocol would mean she couldn't stay with her father.

The last time she saw him was the day he tested positive at City Hospital.

"They moved him into a bay with a load of other patients that were positive as well," she says. "After that, they shut down the hospital so we were unable to visit."

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It meant that a man who had lived his life for his family died alone.

"It was very difficult, just not wanting him to be on his own, definitely very upsetting that we weren't there with him at his last moments," Cherelle says.

Days on from their father's death, Cherelle and her brother Shaun are still unable to plan a funeral to say goodbye to their father.

She said: "We can't do anything because nobody's really sure of how things will go from now.

"Are they allowed to release the body? Is he still going to be infected? So he's just sitting in the morgue at present and we can't lay him to rest."

Since being in isolation, Cherelle hasn't developed any symptoms and has just been given the all clear to return to work.

She knows she will inevitably be having to treat other patients with COVID-19 and has this warning for the public: "Everyone has to keep themselves safe, social distancing. I don't want it to happen to anybody else."

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