Coronavirus: Father and son reunited across River Taff

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Simon Tozzo spoke to his father from across the River Taff and saw him for the first time in weeks

Waving from across a river, a father saw his son for the first time since he was diagnosed with coronavirus. Our correspondent Mark Hutchings witnessed the touching moment and describes it here.

“I’m the one in the red T-shirt.”

In normal times, such a location-finder would be of little help outside the home of Welsh rugby.

But this was a son, making eye contact with his frail father for the first time since February, with just the River Taff between them.

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Media captionCameras got a first look inside the field hospital at the Principality Stadium

The Principality Stadium is now the Dragon’s Heart Hospital and 86-year-old Peter Tozzo is one of those being treated on the transformed pitch.

It was the red T-shirt worn by his son Simon Tozzo that caught my eye (along with his yellow cap) as I cycled past with my family group.

Simon was on his mobile, on the Fitzhamon embankment side of the river. His dad, along with a few other patients, had been brought on to the river-walk within the hospital grounds for his first taste of sunshine in 13 weeks.

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Peter who has dementia had been at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff when he was diagnosed with Covid-19, a virus he had dismissed as “stuff and nonsense”.

“We were told to prepare for the worst,” Simon said.

But somehow his dad recovered and for the past month or so has been recuperating at Dragon’s Heart, though Simon adds: “It has taken its toll on him.”

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Simon Tozzo

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Peter Tozzo pictured last year undergoing treatment

Simon, who lives in the Grangetown area of Cardiff, had a 10-minute warning that hospital staff were bringing his dad outside.

They managed to wave at each other and have a conversation using a phone held by a nurse. A pillowcase was used to protect Peter’s head from the sun.

Simon said the meeting was “emotional”.

“It was so lovely for him. Most importantly it was good for him to get some stimulus after 13 weeks staring at a hospital wall.”

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Simon Tozzo

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Peter came to the UK in 1959 from Italy and ran a cafe for 20 years

In a break from my resumed bike ride, I tweeted a picture of the special moment.

Among the responses was one from Jeremy Griffith, the hospital’s director of operation, who tweeted: “Another picture that will stay with me for ever.”

Ali Gunn told Simon: “I was one of the therapists on the other side of the bridge standing in the sun with family members, our patients. Everyone was smiling.”

There is a tough road ahead for Peter and his family, but right now, Simon is just a phone call away, followed by a quick dash to stand on the banks of the Taff.

BBC News

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