Torbay woman whose husband died from coronavirus speaks out to raise awareness after a party infects her whole family

Credit: Devon Live

A woman whose husband died after contracting coronavirus has spoken publicly, hoping to raise awareness about how easily the disease spreads.

Karen Wilson, from Torbay, is trying to spread the word about how quickly coronavirus can strike after it infected all but one of her family within days.

Karen has been overwhelmed by the support and care she has received before and after the death of her husband, Duncan 'Tug' Wilson, who was 67.

She paid tribute to her 'loving, sociable' husband and set up a fundraiser in his memory to thank the staff at Torbay Hospital who cared for him.

It's incredibly easy to pick up this virus, that's the message I want to get out to people. I've had flus and colds before but never passed it on to my whole family in one go. I want people to stay safe and really take care. It could be a life and death situation.

Karen Wilson
Coronavirus infected all but one of Karen's family within days. Credit: Karen Wilson

Karen admits to being ‘fairly complacent’ before it happened and that her family had attended a party in Banbury on 14th March.

She said: “We all came home together in a taxi - my mum, two sisters, brother-in-law and Tug and me -and the only one who didn't get it was my brother-in-law”.

The following day, Karen's mother became ill. On Monday afternoon Karen began to suffer with the same symptoms and Tug became ill on Tuesday. By Wednesday both Karen’s sisters had the illness too.

Karen said: “We all had the same symptoms: headache, high temperatures, so tired that you can hardly move, the cough, but the biggest of all was the aching - it's like you've been run over with a bus. We all had the same classic symptoms".

Karen has paid tribute to her 'loving, sociable' husband. Credit: Karen Wilson

Karen said Tug felt better by Friday but deteriorated on Saturday afternoon and went back to bed with a temperature.

She said: “I got a lot better during the week but by Thursday I got worried about him and phoned 111. At that stage he still had no breathing problems.

“By Friday morning he couldn't breathe, an ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital. At that point I really thought he would be alright. He's always been so resilient and strong."

On Tuesday, April 7th Tug was taken into ICU. A scan revealed blood clots and another revealed emphysema, a lung condition that causes shortness of breath.

"They tried lots of things but they just couldn't get enough oxygen into him," Karen said.

Karen has been overwhelmed by the support and care she has recieved. Credit: Karen Wilson

The couple met 19 years to the date of Tug's death. They moved to Brixham last August when Tug retired: "He had a very happy eight months down here. He wanted to get back to the sea and he bought himself a boat and he was working on it and doing it up. That was sad in itself - that he never got to sail it”.

She thanked the community in Brixham who have supported her: "The people of Torbay and Brixham particularly have been amazing. I have never been in a place that is so supportive and friendly".

Karen's fundraiser for Torbay and South Devon NHS initially hoped to raise £500, but more than £2,000 has been donated.

She said: "That's just been from friends and family. I am thinking of raising the target amount because I want to carry on.

"It was an amazing level of care that they gave my husband. The nurse that was with him at the end told me that he would treat him like his own father. He said he wouldn't leave his side and I know he meant it".

I know it's hard to stay indoors. I know it's frustrating. I know as much as anybody how hard it is to be separated from our families.

Karen Wilson

Karen paid tribute to her husband: "Tug was a very sociable, caring man. He was always helping others. He was interested in others and made friends easily. He was a real character who loved a glass of red wine."

He leaves grown-up sons Max and Charlie, step-daughter Laura, grandchildren Leo, Luan, Lily, Jack and Harvey and his own father, who will be 98 at the end of May.

You can donate by clicking here to Karen's fundraiser for Torbay and South Devon NHS.