The widow of the UK’s youngest coronavirus victim has spoken of her despair at losing her “life partner and soulmate”.

Nick Matthews, who died aged 59 on Saturday, was a retired police officer from Nailsea, Somerset.

He is thought to be the youngest victim of coronavirus in the UK, although his cause of death will not be officially confirmed until after a post-mortem examination.

His widow, Mary Matthews, told Nailsea People that her husband  had been taken to hospital with breathing difficulties on Thursday.

She said he had previously suffered a heart attack, after which he retired from his job as a police officer.

In a post on Facebook, she wrote: “Today at 3am I lost my life partner and soulmate but most of all my best friend. Charlotte, Ben and I are beyond proud to have had such a big character in our lives. As a family, we are still currently in isolation until the coronavirus test results come back.”

She later added that the test had come back positive and urged those who had been in contact with the family to self-isolate and seek advice.

Mr and Mrs Matthews had recently returned from a holiday in Fuerteventura, flying out on February 22 and returning on February 29. They had been celebrating Mr Matthews’ birthday.

Nailsea People reported that Mr Matthews was diagnosed with pneumonia at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and was admitted to the intensive care unit after showing other signs of coronavirus.

Many paid tribute to him on Facebook, with one describing him as a “true Avon and Somerset Police legend”.

In a statement, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust said: “Sadly, we can confirm that a man who was being cared for at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, and had tested positive for Covid-19, has died. The patient who died was in his late fifties and had underlying health conditions.

“The family has been informed, and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time. We will not be commenting further and ask that everybody respects the family’s privacy.”

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