Couple married 51 years die five days apart after contracting coronavirus

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3 min read
Couple
Sandra Harding, 70, and her husband Fred, 72, died five days apart. (SWNS)

A couple married for 51 years have died just five days apart after contracting coronavirus.

Fred Harding, 72, and his wife Sandra, 70, started displaying COVID-19 symptoms just a few days before they were due to receive a vaccine on 30 January.

Fred fell ill on 28 January, and Sandra came down with symptoms the next day.

She suffered a heart attack and died on 4 February, and postmortem tests confirmed she had COVID-19.

Fred, who had tested positive for the virus after he was rushed to the Royal London Hospital, died on 9 February.

Read more: Couple married for 54 years reunited after spending first Christmas apart

Fred, Lisa and their daughter Sandra at a wedding in 1998. (SWNS)
Fred, Sandra and their daughter Lisa at a wedding in 1998. (SWNS)

Their daughter Lisa, the eldest of their four children, said she had struggled to come to terms with losing her parents, who lived in Bethnal Green, east London.

Lisa, 49, said: "It is like being hit by a truck. To have lost them both in six days is devastating.

"Dad was rushed to hospital and his condition deteriorated so much there was a Zoom call to say goodbye. He was sedated and on a ventilator.

"Mum had been in bed with her symptoms and she got out of bed at 9pm on Thursday February 4 to take her tablets and had a massive heart attack."

Lisa said her parents, who had four grandchildren, had been "inseparable".

She said Fred, a former porter and bus conductor, was as "strong as an ox" with no underlying health concerns, but the couple had been shielding since last March due to Sandra's chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD).

Lisa, a marketing executive, said she had "no idea" how they contracted coronavirus as they followed all the guidelines.

She also fears she may not attend their funeral as she lives more than 100 miles away in Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

Lisa said the couple were very popular and that she had received messages of condolences from ex-colleagues of Fred's and pupils from the school where Sandra was a teaching assistant.

Read more: What are COVID lateral flow tests and will they help the UK return to normal?

She urged people to "grab the vaccine with both hands" when they are offered it.

Lisa said: "It's the only way you're going to be able to hug your parents again. I'll never be able to do that again and I'd give anything to be able to."

On Tuesday, the government announced that almost 2 million more people are to be told to shield themselves from severe side effects from COVID-19.

A new tool has identified those who are at high risk of severe disease or death.

As a result, 1.7 million additional people in England will be sent letters asking them to shield.

Around 2.2 million people are already on the list in England, meaning the total will be almost 4 million when the additional people are included.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson said opening up England would be done in “stages” and noted that hospitality was one of the last things to return after the first lockdown.

He is due to announce his plan to ease restrictions on Monday after reviewing data this week.

Watch: What is long COVID?