A TYRONE man who tragically lost both his parents to Covid-19 last week has urged the public to abide by restrictions and keep people safe.
Martin Ward lost his mother Bredge and father Owen, both 68, to the virus last Monday, and has pleaded with people to follow the rules, saying "You don't think it's going to happen to you".
Mr and Mrs Ward were married for 48 years, having met when they were 17, and had six children and nine grandchildren, with a tenth on the way who they will not get to meet.
The "inseparable" couple passed away in Derry's Altnagelvin Hospital on Monday within 12 hours of each other.
Their son Martin told RTÉ News that his parents had each followed the rules and rarely left their home in Strabane, but the high incidence rate in Counties Tyrone and Derry led to them contracting the virus regardless.
Martin, who worked as a nurse in UHG, was in Galway when he received a call at 6.30am on Monday to say his mother had sadly passed away.
Just hours later, as heartbroken Martin was preparing to travel north to make funeral arrangements for his mother, he received another call that his father's condition had deteriorated and it was likely he would die within the next few hours.
Speaking to RTÉ News, Martin said it was "like my gather just gave up", and within hours he went "from having two perfectly healthy people, to having two parents that were killed because of Covid. Covid killed them."
Because he works as a nurse, Martin was allowed into the room to be with his father and hold his hand as he slipped away, and says he does not want anyone else to be in the position he found himself in.
"We did what we needed to do, we looked after people, but you don't think it's going to happen to you," he said.
"This can happen to anybody, and it is devastating when it does hit."
Owen and Bredge Ward were laid to rest in a joint funeral in St Mary's Church, Melmount, last Wednesday.