Coronavirus has many faces and all are affected

By Marie-Louise Connolly
BBC News NI health correspondent

A volunteer delivers a food box to a lady in County AntrimImage source, PAcemaker
Image caption,
A volunteer delivers a food box to a woman in County Antrim

Covid-19 and three weeks into lockdown. It's Easter but not as we know it.

The virus continues to turn lives upside down; hopes of this being a nightmare or a rehearsal were dashed a long time ago.

Coronavirus has so many different faces. There is the nurse, the paramedic, the cleaner, the van driver, GP and the granny.

Everyone is affected by these terrible times.

Even the most tactile among us have no choice now but to keep our distance.

The death toll is rising and more families are grieving.

No one wants to face death alone, but the virus is so dangerous that social distancing is not optional.

Media caption,
Rhonda Tait's mother, Josephine Brown, died in hospital after contracting coronavirus

There is a clear public demand for leadership and transparency.

During the last week, I've come across more inspirational stories.

I met Sister Marie McNaney, who is in charge of a ward in NI's first Nightingale hospital at Belfast City Hospital's Tower Block.

I immediately noticed her bright eyes.

"That's all that is visible," she told me when she adorned her Personal Protective Equipment.

Poignantly she told me that while it's all very challenging, her nurses were ready.

Despite everything, she assured me that no one will die alone.

"Families cannot be there but we as nurses will stay with their loved ones until the end."

Image source, PAcemaker
Image caption,
Belfast City Hospital's tower block has been transformed into NI's first Nightingale hospital

The issue of personal protective equipment remains contentious and emotive: It will stay that way so long as the pandemic lasts.

While guidelines exist on paper - some healthcare workers who are on the front line say they don't reflect reality.

Compared to last week, more than 5m extra items have arrived and are being delivered.

BBC News NI has interviewed paramedics and district nurses they said they feel "frightened", "exposed", "expendable" and "confused".

Are paramedics, who can be infected in the line of duty, being properly protected? Does their PPE supply allow them to change regularly?

The Easter weekend normally represents a time of hope.

We shall never forget the Easter of 2020.

But there are green shoots, small signs that things are improving albeit slowly.

Hope is good.