GREAT Western Hospital has confirmed that two people who died on wards this week had tested positive for coronavirus.

The man, 80s, and woman, 90s, were both from Swindon. Both had underlying health conditions.

The Marlborough Road hospital confirmed its first coronavirus-related death last week. However, the two fatalities announced today are the first Swindon patients to have died of COVID-19.

Nationally, 422 people diagnosed with the virus have died since the start of the outbreak.

A spokeswoman for Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Sadly, we can confirm that two patients who were being cared for at Great Western Hospital, and had tested positive for COVID-19 have died.

“A man, who died at the hospital on 22 March, was in his 80s, had underlying health conditions.

“A woman, who died at the hospital on 23 March, was in her 90s, and also had underlying health conditions.

“The families of both patients have been informed. Our thoughts and condolences are with them at this difficult and distressing time. Out of respect for their privacy we will not be commenting further.”

Coun David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “This is an incredibly sad day for the whole of Swindon and is the news we have all been fearful of since the start of this outbreak.

“I would like to extend my own heartfelt sympathies and those of the whole Council, to the families of both the patients concerned.  I am sure the news will be met with sorrow in the wider community, especially as they are the first Swindon residents to die of COVID-19. These deaths are a stark reminder of the danger this virus poses to all of us, but especially those vulnerable people in our community.

“It is important that people remain calm at this time and I would like to reassure people that we are working closely with our care providers and NHS partners to support all those who are most at risk.

“I urge everyone to continue to heed the Government’s advice so we minimise the spread of infection.”

Sue Wald, director of adult social services and health at Swindon Borough Council, said: “Our thoughts go out to the patients’ families at this difficult time.

“We are working with health colleagues to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Swindon are protected. Everyone has a role to play in reducing the risk of infection and I would reiterate the Government’s latest guidance for people to stay indoors to minimise the spread of infection.”