The human beings behind Yorkshire's coronavirus death figures

Every day, at around 2pm, Public Health England releases the latest numbers of those who have died of coronavirus.

Ministers in daily Government briefings later address the nation, talking about “flattening the curve”, while political commentators discuss the “public health crisis” at hand.

It is very easy amidst the facts and figures to forget the human stories that make up the fabric of this crisis.

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This weekend, the number of deaths in the Yorkshire and Humber region is expected to pass 1,000, with 982 people now known to have died of Covid-19.

Clockwise from top left: Clifford Healey, Leonard Gibson, Zauma Ekoli, Cobie Ives, Kevin Smith, Carol Kleinman. All pictures from families

The figure has gone up by nearly ten times in two weeks, after The Yorkshire Post reported the death toll having passed 100 on April 2.

But calls have been made urging the public to remember the human tragedies behind the pandemic, with every death a person who has lost their life, children who have lost a parent and parents who have lost a child.

For those who have lost loved ones, the tragedies have been made all the more difficult as relatives are not allowed to attend hospital to be by their sides.

One woman, whose grandfather died less than 48 hours after he was admitted to hospital, said the disease "robs you of an opportunity to say goodbye".

Carol Kleinman, 78, from Leeds. Picture courtesy of Frances Flaxington

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'Coronavirus doesn't just rob you of a loved one - it robs you of saying goodbye...

Brian Mcgregor, who is the British Medical Association’s regional chair for Yorkshire and Humber, said: “As we reach this horrific milestone, it’s important to remember that each number signifies a human life lost and a grave tragedy for their families and loved ones. Our most heartfelt condolences are with those families affected.

“First and foremost, the Covid-19 pandemic is a human tragedy of an unprecedented scale. I know that colleagues and healthcare staff across the region are working tirelessly to fight this awful virus with many putting their own personal safety at risk owing to a lack of proper protective equipment on the frontline.

“I commend their bravery and commitment in the face of adversity. Now, more than ever, we need to stick together to overcome this battle and ensure as few families as possible suffer heartbreak.”

Clifford Healey, 88, from Leeds, who died of coronavirus on Wednesday at Leeds General Infirmary. Picture courtesy of Jenna Tate

In Thursday’s daily briefing, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Every time I come to this lectern and I read out the grim toll of people who have so sadly passed away. I walk away from here, and I think about what their sons and their daughters must be going through right now.

“Their brothers and sisters. Their grandchildren. All the loved ones left with their unbearable, long-term, grief.”

Amidst the grief, relatives of those who have passed away have told of the pain that comes with not being able to say goodbye to their loved ones.

Frances Flaxington told how her stepmother Carol Kleinman, 78, died of Covid-19 at St James’ Hospital, Leeds, on Sunday, April 5, after being admitted alongside her husband Harvey, 83, on the same day, with both testing positive for the disease.

Kevin Smith, from Doncaster, died of coronavirus at Doncaster Royal Infirmary where he had worked as a plaster technician for more than 35 years.

Ms Flaxington said: “I had to tell my father over the phone that Carol had passed away. I couldn’t be there to hold his hand.

“It was just devastating to hear my father break down over the phone. He was reeling from the news.”

Mr Kleinman has since been discharged from the hospital but is unable to receive visitors due to living in residential housing.

Retired Navy merchant Clifford Healey, 88, died at Leeds General Infirmary on Wednesday, April 15 of Covid-19 after being admitted less than 48 hours earlier.

Mr Healey, who grew up in North Leeds and had been an evacuee in the Second World War, was described by family as a “typical Yorkshireman” known for his intelligence and generosity who had travelled the world in his time in the military.

Granddaughter Jenna Tate said: “Coronavirus doesn’t just rob you of your loved one, it robs you of an opportunity to say goodbye.”

Here are just some of the people who have died after developing coronavirus in Yorkshire

Raj Aggerwal, 51, a shopkeeper from Sheffield

Mark Barnett, a former teacher and foodbank manager from Selby

Liam Downing, 30, a DJ from Leeds

Zauma Ekoli, 55, a mother-of-five and an agency nurse at Harrogate District Hospital, from Leeds

Leonard Gibson, 78, from Sheffield

Clifford Healey, 88, a retired Navy merchant from Leeds

Cobie Ives, 97, described as a "talented chess player" from Wakefield

Carol Kleinman, 78, from Leeds

Pat Midgley, 82, a councillor for Sheffield City Council, understood to be the first serving politician to have died

Retired teacher Julie Mott, 60, from Ackworth

Jonathan Rutter, an HSBC banker from Ripon

Kevin Smith, a plaster technician at Doncaster Royal Infirmary

John Stead, 57, a veteran rugby player and dry liner from Wath, South Yorkshire

Tony Johnston, 54, a pub landlord from Leeds

Selwyn Ellis, 82, from Leeds, who cared for French wargraves