‘I had 15 minutes to say goodbye to my dad as he lay dying from coronavirus’

A devastated son has recounted saying goodbye to his 88-year-old dad before as he lay dying after contracting coronavirus.

The 88-year-old grandfather was kept in isolation at North Manchester General Hospital and tested positive for the killer virus, but medics said they will not be able to save him.

He had spent time with people who had recently returned from Italy, the Manchester Evening News reports .

Earlier this week his son was given protective gear and a mask, but was only given 15 minutes to say goodbye to him – and said it was "torture" to be kept apart from him.

His family will not get a chance to say their farewells as he is ravaged by the killer disease, the son said.

The pensioner was found collapsed in his home on Tuesday, March 3.

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He was placed into isolation at North Manchester General Hospital when it was discovered he had recently been to a party with people who travelled to Italy for a ski trip.

Half of the people attending the party have since been diagnosed with coronavirus, some who had returned from Italy and some who had spent time with them at the party.

The man was initially said to be suffering from sepsis and tested negative for Covid-19, but was still in isolation as a precaution, his son said.

But after another swab on Tuesday, March 10, medics told his son he had developed coronavirus.

The family of the pensioner, who is from Middleton, said the experience has been like "torture" and they are devastated they cannot be with him to say goodbye properly.

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His 54-year-old son says he had to wear protective gear, including gloves and a mask, to visit him and was only given 15 minutes with earlier this week.

The rest of the time the family remains in a relatives room where they can remain in contact using a decicated phoneline.

The son said: "My dad is 88-years-old. He is a very active 88-year-old. He has been going to the same church for 50 years. He is an active member of a choir. I found him collapsed on Tuesday, March 3, at home and took him to A&E.

"He had been to a party with a number of people who had been to Italy on a ski trip.

"They started testing positive for coronavirus. Half of the party tested positive, including people they have come into contact with.

"He tested negative when he first went in. We thought he was getting better, but then he tested positive.

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"They quarantined him, swabbing him every day to test him. It was negative at first, but then suddenly he tested positive.

"The hospital said because it was so new nobody knows about the resilience to it. "

He said: "The difficulty is as soon as coronavirus is suspected you can't be treated as a normal patient in hospital.

"You can't go for scans, you can't leave the room, you can't have bloods tested.

"He is at North Manchester General, they could not have been more helpful. They have been faultless."

The son added: "To say goodbye to him I had to wear professional protective equipment, two pairs of gloves, a face mask.

"After 15 minutes I was struggling to breath properly in it. Tears were streaming down my face.

"The hospital don't like anyone to stay longer than 15 minutes. It took longer to remove the equipment than being with my dad.

"It sounds awful, seeing him was the most terrifying thing I have ever done.

"The hospital was so serious about how dangerous this is. Putting all of the kit on was completely scary.

"I am thinking of going later this afternoon I am really scared about how he will be.

"It is difficult, you want to look after your parents when they are older as they did for you when you were younger. Coronavirus has taken that away from me."

He said his father has only been given days left to live and organised a vicar to read to him over the phoneline, while they remained in the relatives room "with tears down our faces".

They also stressed they have not suffered any symptoms of the disease and are not ill.

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The family member says he had decided to speak out to encourage people to take precautions against the virus.

The son added: "I think it brought it home to me coronavirus is something far away in Italy and China, but it is here now.

"I had no idea what thorough hand washing was until I saw what they had to do in hospital.

"I was blasé about crowds, now I am going to stay clear.

"Our family goes back generations in Manchester. They are all devastated, he has got so many friends from church and choir, they are devastated it has happened so quickly and they can't see him.

"It is bad enough when someone gets ill, this is something else, it is awful. It is torture."

The number of people in the UK with coronavirus has risen to 798 in the last 24 hours, with 32 confirmed cases in Manchester.

A total of 10 people have died in the UK after contracting the virus.

North Manchester General Hospital said they were unable to comment on individual cases.

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