Northern Ireland news

Families of Craigavon hospital patients who died with Covid 'entitled to answers'

John Fleming from Loughgilly, Co Armagh contracted Covid-19 at Craigavon Area Hospital where he was being treated in the haematology ward

HEALTH minister Robin Swann has said families of patients who died after contracting Covid-19 in hospital "are entitled to answers".

He was speaking after it was confirmed that two people infected in an outbreak at Craigavon Area Hospital had lost their lives.

Of the 14 patients on the haematology ward diagnosed with coronavirus, a third person also died after being discharged although the virus was not said to be the primary cause.

The Irish News reported yesterday how the family of John Fleming (79), from Loughgilly in Co Armagh, was diagnosed with coronavirus just days before he was due to be discharged last month.

He died on Thursday evening.

His daughter Yvonne Stewart has called for answers rather than apologies from authorities, saying her father "blamed the hospital".

A woman in her seventies, named locally as Alice McShane from Derrymacash near Lurgan, died on the same day.

The Southern trust said it was "profoundly sorry about these deaths and extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of those who have passed away".

Mr Swann said the deaths are "extremely distressing and disturbing".

"This situation demands a thorough and expeditious investigation. Patients and bereaved families are entitled to answers."

With three Covid clusters identified at the hospital, SDLP Upper Bann assembly member Dolores Kelly also said the situation was "deeply concerning".

"Patients and their families expect they would be safe in hospital."

Meanwhile, the Department of Health said yesterday that another 61 people had tested positive for Covid-19 across Northern Ireland, and one further death had been reported.

Latest figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency also showed that four coronavirus-linked deaths were registered last week, bringing the total during the pandemic to 873.

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