A TWIN has described her "unbearable heartbreak" over tragically losing her sister to the coronavirus, and is pleading to the public to take the virus seriously.

Caroline Saunby, 48, from New Marske passed away at James Cook University Hospital on Sunday 29 March after contracting Covid-19. She had no known underlying health conditions.

She leaves behind her twin boys Joseph and Elliot, aged 6, her husband Vic, her parents Megan and Colin and four siblings, including twin sister Sarah Jarvis, who said that the virus has "ripped the entire family apart."

"We have always been a extremely close family, so much so that most of us live on the same estate just a few minutes walk from one another," said Mrs Jarvis. "She was a friend to hundreds and was the most genuine and generous person in the world."

Mrs Saunby, who her sister described as a "germophobe and obsessive hand-washer" first began exhibiting symptoms of the virus on Thursday, March 26, including a sore throat which she thought was tonsillitis. By the Friday she had developed further symptoms of sickness, and on Sunday she had difficulty breathing.

After collapsing at home, both an ambulance and an air ambulance were sent, and Mrs Saunby was put on a ventilator at home before being taken to hospital where she sadly passed away.

"Caroline took every precaution under the sun," said Mrs Jarvis. "She was practising social distancing, she was washing her hands, took hers and everyone's safety seriously, was healthy - yet she was taken from us in only four days. This virus does not discriminate.

"All of the doctors and nurses at James Cook were incredible, as were the paramedics with the Great North Air Ambulance - we are forever grateful for all their efforts."

Since losing her sister, Mrs Jarvis is on a mission to warn others to take the threat of the virus seriously.

"People believe that because they are young and healthy they aren't at risk but are the reality of how coronavirus can change anyone's life."

Currently no one is aware of where Mrs Saunby had contracted the virus.

Mrs Jarvis said that to add to the heartbreak of losing her sister, due to the safety measures around virus, she is unable to find comfort in family and friends.

"It is so painful to know that Vic has lost the love of his life, the boys have lost their mother, and our parents have lost a child and we can't even be together to console one another.

"We can't even have a funeral to celebrate her life right now - we aren't privileged to that closure which is horrible."

Upon hearing that her sister required ambulance aid, Mrs Jarvis along with other family members arrived on Mrs Saunby's street where they watched their loved one being transported into the ambulance.

Whilst the family were experiencing "the worst moment of their life", someone in a passing car recored the scene uploaded it to social media where it was circulated widely.

"Family members found out about the situation from this video before we had a chance to tell them," said Mrs Jarvis, "it's only added to our grief and trauma. I'm begging people to not put anyone else through what we have had to endure on top of losing Caroline. Please think how you would feel if it were your loved one."

Currently Mr Saunby, Joseph and Elliot remain in self-isolation because they have been exposed to the virus. Mrs Jarvis and her family are also isolating as they had contact with the family shortly before Mrs Saunby fell ill.

All have been unable to secure testing to see whether they have Covid-19 or not.

To ease the Saunby family of any financial worries during this difficult time, a fundraising page has been set up.

"We will all do what we can to help Vic and the boys through this, but we don't know whether Caroline had life insurance and there is the worry of now only having one wage coming in to support two children," said Mrs Jarvis.

My only solace is knowing that Caroline was able to meet the love of her life and have her beautiful boys who were her entire world."

Donations can be made on JustGiving by going on https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jackie-harker