An elderly Welsh woman who was unable to see her husband as he was dying in hospital has urged people to "protect the community" by engaging in a new mass testing program. Shirley Jones, 82, was the first member of the public to take a test under Merthyr Tydfil's new Covid-19 testing pilot after her husband died while waiting for cancer treatment which had been delayed due to the pandemic.
Jones decided to go to the trouble of getting tested just 24 hours after her partner of 20 years, Desmond Rogers, died at the Prince Charles Hospital.
She told the PA news agency: “He’d been there for a while, he had bowel cancer. It went to his stomach and his throat. He was at Prince Charles Hospital and that’s where he died.
“I couldn’t say goodbye to him. I couldn’t tell him that I love him or that the lord will be with him. I couldn’t give him comfort.
“I’ve got to do this because I think it’s right that we should all come up here and support the Government and get this test. It’s very important that we do it.
“I could’ve stayed in this morning and not come because I was grieving, but I knew I had to do the right thing in coming up here for myself for our community, and I pray to god that everybody comes up and has a test like I have.
“I think it’s our duty to come up and protect the community. If you don’t do it then we’re never going to get rid of this coronavirus.”
The deputy leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Lisa Mytton, commended Ms Jones bravery for speaking out and setting a good example for the wider community.
She told PA: “Doesn’t that just say it all. The courage that woman has shown is incredible.
“It’s quite emotional, to know she’s come out here because of what’s impacted her within the 24 hours is incredibly brave thing for her to do.”
The deputy leader added that the testing pilot was the best way to try and reduce the area’s high levels of infections.
She said: “I just wonder what other way there would be to do it apart from this way.
“I really am hopeful that it will get everybody out there so we can find and see those people who are asymptomatic walking around unknowingly with coronavirus so they can then self-isolate so we can reduce our transmission rate.
“This will help in the end people being able to see relatives, to get back to some sort of normality.”
She added: “Obviously we didn’t want as many people having coronavirus in Merthyr Tydfil as the numbers have shown, that’s saddened us. But I’m pleased we’ve been chosen to undertake this pilot because if it helps reduce the transmission rate in Merthyr Tydfil then that’s a good thing, definitely.”