Coronavirus: Son of COVID-19 victim warns of 'sneaky' virus that took his mum's life

The son of a COVID-19 victim is warning New Zealanders about what he calls the "sneaky" virus that took his mum's life.

Southlander Will Finlayson had designed an app to check and trace people before his mum Jocelyn caught the virus - and she told him it would save lives.

Jocelyn died aged 62 after spending 19 days in the hospital. Seventeen of those days she spent on a ventilator in intensive care in Dunedin.

"She was a southern battler. She gave it a good fight," Will says.

Jocelyn caught the virus on March 28, which is Will's birthday, and died on April 22, her 43rd wedding anniversary with husband Denys.

The family were all living in the same house in Invercargill when she became ill.

"You take her food and you can't even give her a hug or anything. And then all of a sudden she is getting in a car and it is the last time you see her," Will says.

A lot of the family wound up contracting the virus. Will tested positive, as did his partner, Laura. His father got it too. Will regards his two preschool children as probable cases.

"All that stuff is very, very heavy and hard to deal with," he says.

That includes the family having to say goodbye to his mum by video call, while his father was self-isolating in another room, and his sister Nicole was in Nelson.

"You wake up in the morning and you take a deep breath. Am I going to have it today?"

Jocelyn caught COVID-19 through community transmission and the source is still unknown.

Will believes health officials are "trying to pin it" on a supermarket.

Will says his mum was so paranoid about catching the virus and the family was so careful that they went into lockdown voluntarily before the rest of the country.

"She was so scared about getting it, I kept assuring her it wouldn't happen," he says.

Will is a software developer, and before they caught the virus he had made an app called Checkin-19 that checks visitors into premises. It means people don't have to touch a surface or share a pen. It's now in use in several businesses.

"I talked about it with Mum a lot. She was my biggest fan to be honest. She kept saying, 'You are going to save people's lives'."

The app works by opening the camera on your phone, and it checks you into a location. It's an innovation from someone who truly understands the way this virus operates.

"I'd say sneaky. It just flies under the radar. You could have a snotty nose and have it, or you could die from it," Will says.

For Will, the app is one way he can honour his mum, who he says "was very loved".