A Lanarkshire woman whose family has been torn apart by coronavirus is urging Scots to stick to level four restrictions and “kick Covid in the teeth”.
Denise Williamson, from Carnwath, lost her father to the virus on Easter Sunday, while her mother barely pulled through in the same hospital a week later.
She is still grieving for her father while looking after her mum who has now developed “long Covid”.
She says she is dreading the level four lockdown, but adds: “We need it and we know it works.”
On Tuesday it was announced that 11 council areas in Scotland would go into level four – the toughest Covid restrictions – on Friday.
The new rules will affect about 2.3 million people living across west and central Scotland, and will remain in place until 11 December.
Denise says her own experience convinces her the lockdown is necessary; her parents Donald and Edith McCracken were both infected in April.
Edith, 76, from the village of Symington in South Lanarkshire, had been suffering from a rare form of severe asthma for the past six years.
Donald was 73 but he was in good health despite heart problems in the past.
Edith survived, but Donald developed double pneumonia and died at Wishaw General Hospital on Easter Sunday, 12 April.
Denise said: “It’s been tough. It was so difficult to begin with. My mum was in hospital too and we thought we were going to lose her at one point as well.
“We just got her out in time for dad’s funeral.”
Denise now cares for her mum as her health has deteriorated since Covid and she needs a lot of help.
She said: “She has long Covid. She can’t keep her eyes open, she has absolute exhaustion, she just sleeps all the time.
“She has brittle asthma and has problems breathing. Since having Covid she is much worse. She has never been off her steroids. I have to do everything for her. “
Denise says that because her mother was so ill, she had a delayed reaction to her dad’s death but it has hit her now.
She said: “It is really hard to watch. They would have been married 50 years this year. She must really miss him in the house.
“If times were normal, she has such a big network of people who would be in to see her and taking her out. But that can’t happen. It’s just me and her.”
The current situation has seen Denise’s family separated and spread across the country.
Her daughter Sophie is a student in Glasgow and because she shares a flat with a nurse, she has kept away from Denise and Edith for four months. Denise’s stepson Ricky works in Dundee, so he has stayed in his local authority area.
The family wants to be together for their first Christmas without Donald, and for that to happen, Denise believes level four is the only way.
“We know the lockdown works,” said Denise. “Look at what happened in the summer. The numbers came right down. I think we should have gone into lockdown two weeks ago. Let’s get on with it and kick this thing in the teeth.”
As a result of what happened to her family, Denise has been sticking tightly to the restrictions. She hopes everyone else does the same.
She said: “I hope everybody listens. Don’t think this can’t happen to your family. This virus is in our lives, it’s like cancer, it’s so cruel. Just like that it can destroy your family. We would never have believed it could happen to my dad.
“I now have a close friend whose husband is in intensive care with the virus. He is 51. It is heartbreaking.”
She hopes the tough restrictions will lead to a family Christmas.
“Nobody knows if we can have the family together. It is going to be tough anyway with one person missing. It would be terrible if we couldn’t have my children there too.”