With a little bit of ingenuity and some plastic, a great-grandmother in the US state of Illinois was able to safely hug her great-grandchildren for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic led to social distancing measures.

85-year-old Rose Gagnon went from seeing her great-grandchildren every day to not hugging them in more than two months.

But she gathered them in her arms again for the first time this week thanks to an invention by her granddaughter. Using some PVC pipes, a window insulator kit, and duct tape, Carly Marinaro built a "hug time" machine outside her house in Rockford, Illinois.

"My heart felt like it was going to burst. It filled my heart," Ms Gagnon said.

"I was getting to the point of 'Oh my gosh, I can't handle this, I need to hug her, the kids need to hug her.’ So it was just so worth it," Ms Marinaro said.

"We’re not meant to be apart like this or be isolated and it’s sad for those people that can’t be around their family members. I’m just glad that we can share this type of happiness with people," she added.

Ms Marinaro said her "hug time" device has garnered international attention. She hopes other families can use the idea to hug their loved ones.