Nine British veterans have died with coronavirus, the Royal Hospital Chelsea has announced.

The retirement home for members of the army, which cares for about 290 people, made the announcement ahead of VE Day.

Five of the coronavirus deaths happened in the hospital, while four died receiving treatment elsewhere.

A veteran outside the Royal Hospital Chelsea (file pic)
The hospital cares for around 290 people. File pic

One of the victims was 75-year-old Fred Boomer-Hawkins, who passed away on 1 April.

He spent 20 years with the Royal Green Jackets infantry regiment, and became a Chelsea Pensioner in 2017.

In a tribute on Facebook, his son Terry said: “Today I leave a post for all of you who knew my dad, a Chelsea Pensioner and a much loved father and grandfather and friend to many.

Describing his father’s last moments, he wrote: “If the government showed footage of someone at the end with this virus it would scare people and they would heed the advice I am sure.

“Please all stay home, keep your distance, wear a mask and wash your hands. If not you might put someone you love through this.

“My dad was a great man, he was much loved by many and will be sorely missed.”

A total of 58 of its residents have recovered after either testing positive or showing symptoms of COVID-19.

PM Boris Johnson commemorates VE Day

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, said: “Most of our pensioners have risked their lives serving our nation through war and conflict somewhere in the world, just as our NHS staff and care workers are providing vital and sometimes dangerous service to the nation here at home during this crisis.

“We salute all those working in the health and care sectors at this time and we understand only too well the difficulties that they face.”

General Bradshaw said the hospital now has the capacity to test all those who show symptoms of the disease as well as all those living and working in the same accommodation areas.

He said the hospital will be marking VE Day “in a manner appropriate to the current situation”.

He said the veterans will enjoy some “internal, socially distant events” but these will be “against the backdrop of the recent losses we have suffered”.





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