'Take this seriously': Heartbroken family's warning after Sheffield man dies of coronavirus

A Sheffield man diagnosed with coronavirus has died – prompting his heartbroken family to warn others to take the illness more seriously.

By Claire Lewis
Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 2:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 6:11 pm

Leonard Gibson, aged 78, died in the Northern General Hospital this morning after being diagnosed with coronavirus last week.

His devastated daughters, Lisa and Michelle, have taken the brave decision to speak out so soon because of fears over the speed at which coronavirus is now spreading.

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Leonard Gibson with his daughters Lisa (L) and Michelle (R)

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As of last night, 55 people had died from the illness in the UK, with Leonard’s death expected to be included in new figures due to be released this afternoon.

Leonard, a grandfather-of-four who lived in sheltered accommodation in Oughtibridge, had been prescribed antibiotics for a chest infection after feeling unwell for a few days before he was eventually admitted to hospital last Saturday.

Leonard Gibson died this morning

His daughter Lisa, 50, from Catcliffe, said she regrets not questioning the possibility that her dad had Covid-19 and urged other families to voice their concerns ‘before it is too late’.

“Our dad had COPD so when he started with a cough and breathing difficulties it was diagnosed as a chest infection at first because they were common symptoms of his health condition, and that is where the problem lies.

“These coronavirus symptoms are going hidden because people are not suggesting coronavirus as they don’t think it will happen to them – but it can and it will unless more people start to demand to be tested.

“Don’t think you are being over dramatic by suggesting it as a possibility because ignoring it can prove fatal.

Fun-loving Leonard Gibson died after contracting coronavirus

“If anyone has elderly or ill relatives please take any advice you get seriously and take care of each other. Notice the symptoms and take action.

“Nobody know how this is going to end, but it is here now and it is claiming lives.

“I think everyone is waiting for official Government advice to tell us what to do and people are frightened of staying at home for fear of losing their jobs but health has to come first and we all need to do everything we can to keep each other safe.”

Leonard, who had 12 siblings, was born in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and came to South Yorkshire to work when he was 26.

Sheffield City Hall, outside which an emergency leaflet drop over coronavirus is being organised

He spent a number of years at Orgreave coking plant and brought up his family in Woodhouse, Sheffield.

He returned to Ireland when his marriage ended but moved back to Sheffield two years ago to be closer to his daughters.

Lisa said he was ‘kind, loving, generous, crazy and fun loving’.

She said he would be remembered by his friends and all those at his sheltered housing complex as ‘a jolly Irish man who made everyone smile’.

Michelle said: “We are heartbroken and pray no one has to endure what we have over the last few days.

“We have no way of knowing how or when he contracted it.”

The family is self-isolating as a precaution.