CORONAVIRUS patients in the Royal Gwent Hospital's intensive care unit face a long and lonely period of quarantine – but a Newport businessman has found a way for them to stay in touch with their loved ones.

Dario Oliver started a fundraiser to buy the hospital several iPads, which quarantined patients are using to make video calls to their families and maintain vital social contact.

Mr Oliver, 29, was "delighted" by the response from members of the public, who helped him smash his £1,000 target in just two days.

Their support, he said, represented a wider spirit of generosity and positivity during this time of crisis.

Since the coronavirus outbreak reached the Gwent region, members of the public have pulled together to support the NHS and other important causes – from a fundraiser to buy PPE for hospital staff, to a footballer's aid for a city homelessness charity.

"It's incredible to see people coming together like this," he said. "That's what helps – knowing people in the community are willing to help each other."


Mr Oliver, who runs the MouseTech phone repair firm in Newport, said he had heard stories of doctors in other countries lending their phones to patients who – during their time recovering from Covid-19 in intensive care – had no way of speaking to their loved ones.

"They had no visitors, and no contact," Mr Oliver said. "I couldn't imagine being in that situation, or having a relative in that situation."

After getting approval from the Newport hospital, Mr Oliver started an online fundraiser and was soon inundated with donations.

"I think people were putting themselves in that situation [of being unable to contact loved ones]," he said.

Mr Oliver ended up raising enough to buy five second-hand iPads, which have now been donated to the Royal Gwent's intensive care unit.

He and his brother Claudio have also organised for donations of toiletries and towels to the Royal Gwent, which he collected with help from local beauticians' salons and the Celtic Manor Resort.

"It’s just amazing how the whole community is coming together," Mr Oliver said. "I feel proud to be a part of it and the community.

"The whole of Newport has come together, and everyone is doing their bit in one way or another."

A spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: “We are so grateful for all the donations and continued support we are receiving, which help our patients and NHS staff during this time.”