Covid: Mum-of-five Karen Hobbs dies, aged 40

By Nicola Smith & Carys Betteley
BBC News

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media captionKaren Hobbs, from Cardiff, had a heart attack and died, weeks after testing positive for Covid

The family of a 40-year-old mother-of-five who died with coronavirus have urged people to respect lockdown rules.

Karen Hobbs had a heart attack and died, weeks after testing positive for Covid-19.

The former EasyJet cabin crew member developed symptoms a week before Christmas, was not able to get out of bed and started struggling to breathe.

She was taken to hospital and died on 19 January.

Karen's sister Rachel Hobbs said her normally healthy sister became very ill over Christmas.

"She just looked dreadful, Christmas Day she was laid up in bed, she couldn't do anything," she said.

"I knew she was really bad but I'd never seen anybody like that before, it was shocking, for someone that healthy to be barely able to walk to a car is quite shocking."

On 2 January, Karen was put into an induced coma.

"She was really terrified, she said 'I need to come out of this and see my children again'. She never came out of it," her sister added.

image copyrightRachel Hobbs
image captionKaren Hobbs' children are now 14, 11, nine, eight and four.

The family were told Karen's organs were beginning to fail and she was "going downhill" about a week before she died, and they were allowed to visit.

"She did look a little bit better, she had more colour, she was quite puffy - swelling and a bit of a rash on her. Her lungs were struggling, so we came home a little bit shocked.

"They started feeding her in a tube and were able to move her, I thought perhaps she's recovering a little bit and then I had the phone call to say that she'd gone.

"Her body just couldn't take it any more. I don't think it's sunk in. I think the children are still in a bit of shock as well, I thought she would come out of it but she just had it so severe. "

image copyrightRachel Hobbs
image captionKaren's children made her a get well soon card while she was in hospital

Rachel said her sister, from Cardiff, was healthy with no underlying conditions.

"She didn't go anywhere - she did online shopping, she was in the house - so we don't even know where it could have come from, she was one of the ones who stayed safest.

"It's just shocking to think a young mum of five is no longer here. They've lost their mum and they lost their grandfather and nan a couple of years ago so they must feel 'who will be next'?

image copyrightRachel Hobbs
image captionRachel Hobbs says it still has not sunk in that she has lost her sister

Rachel said her sister was a fantastic mother to her five children, aged 14, 11, nine, eight and four.

"I don't think the youngest understands, I think she thinks mummy's still just in the hospital.

"She was a very hands-on mum, she spent a lot of time with the children. She'd sit and play with them for hours, sit and colour, she was always there for them."

image copyrightRachel Hobbs
image captionRachel says her youngest niece does not yet understand what has happened to her mother

Rachel added that Karen had no patience with people who broke lockdown rules: "She used to get quite annoyed about people who broke the rules and she wasn't slow on coming forward, she'd say it as well.

"It just goes to show how bad this virus is. She would say 'make sure you follow the rules because nobody is safe, it is real this virus, stay at home and only go out when you need to'."

In the days since Karen's death a fundraising page has been set up by friends to support her children and their dad, and has raised more than £20,000.

image copyrightRachel Hobbs
image captionKaren spoke of how frightened she was in her final post on Facebook

"I'm absolutely amazed at how generous people have been and how kind people have been, the community has come together and I think she'd be proud too that it's raising awareness about the pandemic.

"That'll help the children going forward now. Out of a bad thing, it's been nice people getting in touch, kind words, messages, little things about what she was like."

image copyrightRachel Hobbs
image captionKaren loved colouring and playing with her children, her sister said

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