Five lives lost to coronavirus in Northern Ireland

Five people who had tested positive for the coronavirus have now died in Northern Ireland, with the figures coming as two families speak of their pain.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “My deepest sympathies are extended to the families affected.

“These deaths must never become mere statistics. Behind each of them is a family plunged into grief.”

A total of 172 positive cases have been recorded, according to the latest figures available and a day-on-day increase of 24.

The number of test carried out stands at 2,989.

My mum was not just a statistic. She was a woman who had unbelievable strength and suffered many challenges in her life. Unfortunately, this was one that she was not going to overcome.

Brenda Doherty

The fourth person who died was Ruth Burke, an 82-year-old mother-of-five who was admitted to hospital with an infection and later tested positive for Covid-19.

Her daughter Brenda Doherty has paid tribute to the NHS staff who cared for her mother – but lambasted the “selfishness” of those who continue to flout guidelines of social distancing.

“To those of you who out there are being so selfish in gathering in packs - wise up. How selfish can you be?” she said.

Ms Doherty said her family was “devastated and heartbroken”, adding that they could not be with her mother when she died or afterwards due to the risk of infection.

"We will not see her in her coffin. We will not get to give her a kiss, but I know we did that when it mattered and that was when mummy was alive,” she said.

“We kept our mum safe as best we could until we could not keep her safe anymore.”

In her emotional post on social media, Ms Doherty added that she was down to her last half-bottle of hand-wash because shop shelves were empty.

“My mum would not believe how people would be behaving - she would have thought better of society,” she said.

Thanking those helping the vulnerable,” she added: “My mum was a woman who lived her life to the full. She had lots of hard times in her life, but she valued life.

“If you value life, you will stay home to do as we have been asked.

“My mum may be the fourth person to pass of Covid-19, but the sad reality is she probably won’t be the last.”

Meanwhile, Joan Fulton has asked UTV to tell the story of her brother Billy Allan.

The 67-year-old from Newtownards was the third person to die as a result of Covid-19.

“That number had a face and it’s the face of my brother,” she said, in a tearful video message.

“Why am I sharing this? Because this is the hardest journey I’ve ever been on.”

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the unprecedented announcement on Monday evening that the UK was going into lockdown for at least three weeks.

People are only to leave their homes in very limited circumstances and police will have the power to disperse gatherings as a ban is now in place.

Fines could be imposed on anyone who does not comply.

The spread of the coronavirus is expected to peak in the UK in the coming weeks, causing immense pressure on the health service.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know