A HEART-RENDING appeal has been made for people to ‘stay at home’ by a family whose loved one died alone in hospital leaving them in isolation unable to grieve properly and astonished that the unthinkable had happened.

The man from the Bedale area, who we are not naming, died in James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, at the weekend. He was vulnerable and elderly but his family said he had years of life to look forward to until coronavirus struck.

In a shockingly honest letter, his niece has called on people to take notice.

She said: “It’s something you see on the news and think ‘oh, it’ll never happen to me.’ I didn’t think it would happen to my family either.

“Yes, my uncle was vulnerable and in remission from cancer. Yes, he was older, but he didn’t deserve to die. He still had plenty more years left in him.

"He lived in a village in North Yorkshire, not the busy city of London. He’d been self-isolating for days before his symptoms started, he didn’t suspect he would ever have it, he was taking all the necessary precautions.

“He was taken away and isolated, he wasn’t allowed to see anyone in his final days. He spent his last birthday in hospital. He was alone. He couldn’t say any goodbyes and neither could we.

“It wasn’t a normal death, we couldn’t prepare and we now have to live with that. We have to live with the fact that we were effectively useless to help him, or even be there.

"None of our family can see each other to support each other, we can’t be each others' shoulder to cry on in fear that we have it and could pass it on. I can’t see my dad to give him a hug.

"His wife is alone at home, unable to see anyone or go out, having to self-isolate in case she has it herself. We’ve been told that only five people can attend his funeral so we can’t say goodbye or grieve properly.

“He won’t receive the normal farewell that everybody else gets. That’s it, gone forever, no other chance.

"To the world, he will forever be seen as a statistic but to me, he was my uncle. He was kind, gentle and a pleasure to know. He gave the best advice and the tightest hugs and he happened to be one of the bravest people I’ll ever know.

“Now imagine that this scenario is you. You can’t say goodbye to someone you hold dear. The government isn’t giving warnings for no reason, it’s not for you to have extra holidays, social gatherings or a giggle.

“It’s serious. People are dying. Yes, you need to keep sane, but please keep yourself and others safe.

"You may think your invincible, but you’re not. You may think you’re not carrying it, but you very well could be and how would you feel if you passed it onto someone you loved because you were ‘bored’ and couldn’t stay away.

"It’s only a few weeks, you can do it. You wouldn’t be out if there was a mass murderer on the streets, so don’t go out while this invisible killer is around. It’s not scaremongering it’s a very harsh reality. Please stay at home.”