A London railway worker has died of COVID-19 after being spat on by a passenger while on duty.
47-year-old Belly Mujinga was working on the concourse of Victoria Station in March when a man, who was claiming he had coronavirus, coughed at her and her colleague.
Days after they were assaulted, both women fell ill of the disease. Ms Mujinga had underlying health conditions, which included respiratory problems, putting her at high risk of developing critical symptoms of COVID-19. She was admitted to Barnet Hospital, where she was put on a ventilator, but unfortunately died on April 5. Due to the current social distancing rules, only 10 people were able to attend her funeral.
Ms Mujinga’s husband, Lusamba Gode Katalay, said that their daughter (and Ms Mujinga’s only child) “just does not understand what has happened.” He added, “It’s terrible to lose the person you love so quickly. We are sure she got the virus from the man who spat on her, and it could have been so easily avoided.”
The assualt has been reported to the Railways Inspectorate, which is the safety arm of the Office for Road and Rail (ORR), and is beginning to take legal action against the attack.
General Secretary of the ORR, Manuel Cortes, has called for the £60,000 compensation paid to the relatives of health and care workers who die as a result of the virus to be extended to all frontline workers, including transport staff.
“Sadly, Belly’s is just one of many family tragedies where children have had their parents taken away from them,” Cortes said. “As a vulnerable person in the ‘at risk’ category, and her condition known to her employer, there are questions about why she wasn’t stood down from frontline duties early on in this pandemic.”
Angie Doll, the Managing Director of Southern Railway and Gatwick Express, has said that the company is “devastated” by Belly’s death and have launched an investigation. In addition, the British Transport Police is also looking into the alleged assault claims.
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