An immigration officer and his 33-year-old daughter died 24 hours apart after succumbing to coronavirus.

Friends and family are grieving the loss of Sudhir Sharma, 61, who passed away on Wednesday before pharmacist Pooja the following day. It is not clear whether the pair had been in close contact with each other before their deaths.

Pooja, who worked as a pharmacist at Eastbourne General Hopsital in East Sussex, is thought to have spent three days receiving medical treatment before dying. Border guards across the country are said to be talking about Sudhir’s passing, although officials do not believe he picked up the deadly airborne virus at work.

A source told The Sun: ’It’s an absolute tragedy. He was a lovely, lovely man. Every immigration officer is talking about it. There are concerns about his widow being unable to attend the funeral because of the isolation issues. It’s just so awful.’

Sudhir, from Hounslow, West London, is thought to have left work due to underlying health issues before recently returning to the frontline. Airport workers have expressed fears over protection offered to staff, who claim they were not offered screens or face masks.

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One asked why flights from Wuhan – the Chinese epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak – kept on coming in when news of the health crisis broke in December.

As the virus gripped Europe, particularly Italy and Spain, workers say it was far too late before flights from Milan and Madrid were barred.

Border Force Heathrow director Nick Jariwalla said: ‘Sudhir was a very well-respected, kind and experienced officer. He will be greatly missed by everyone.’

In a social media post a university friend of Pooja’s said: ‘Please, please, please inform family and friends to take this very seriously and to self-isolate, socially distance themselves as much as possible, for their families if not for themselves.’

a Home Office spokeswoman told The Sun: ‘The safety of the public and our staff is of the utmost importance.

‘In line with Public Health England guidance, all staff have protective clothing and equipment available, including masks and disposable gloves, for when they are in close contact with anyone displaying symptoms.’

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