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Coronavirus: Whittington Hospital vigil for frontline workers lost to Covid-19

PUBLISHED: 12:08 29 April 2020

Minutes silence for Covid-19 deaths outside Whittington Hospital. Picture: Paddy Nielsen

Minutes silence for Covid-19 deaths outside Whittington Hospital. Picture: Paddy Nielsen

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A minute’s silence was held outside the Whittington Hospital on Tuesday to commemorate all the frontline workers who have died with Covid-19.

Minutes silence for Covid-19 deaths outside Whittington Hospital. Picture: Paddy NielsenMinutes silence for Covid-19 deaths outside Whittington Hospital. Picture: Paddy Nielsen

International Workers’ Memorial Day annually honours all employees who have died or been seriously injured while doing their jobs.

This year a socially-distanced group outside the Whittington remembered the NHS staff, bus drivers, care workers and other frontline employees lost to the virus.

Among the dead are Whittington Hospital porter Nick Joseph, Holloway Bus Garage drivers Emeka Nyack Ihenacho and Win Tin Soe, and two workers at Highbury New Park care home.

Colleagues have described Nick as “humble” and a “true gentleman”, while Emeka’s mother, Anne, said he was “the life and soul of the party” and Win’s daughter, Theai, said he was a “husband, father, son and irreplaceable friend”.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Shirley Franklin, chair of Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition, said: “We mourn the dead, it’s very upsetting but also makes me very angry how many people have died because we have seen, increasingly, how incompetently the government has handles this crisis.

“It’s really moving there was recognition of what key workers have done. Nobody wants to go to work to die.”

One of the organisers of the protest, Ken Muller of Islington NEU teachers’ union, said: “Many of the deaths from Covid-19 could have been avoided if Boris Johnson and his government had worried two months ago more about ordinary people than the profits of their big business backers.

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“There should be no more talk of reopening workplaces and schools until the virus has been brought fully under control, all key workers have adequate PPE and a comprehensive national programme of testing, tracing and isolation has been implemented. Enough people have died as a result of the government’s complacency and incompetence. People must come before profit.”

Ten people died with Covid-19 in care homes in Islington in the fortnight to April 24, according to Care Quality Commission data published on Tuesday.

Between April 10-24, 56% of deaths in Islington care homes were related to coronavirus, with 18 deaths logged under “other causes”.

The ONS registered 21 deaths in Islington care homes as of April 17, and five deaths at people’s homes.

ONS previously reported 14 people had died in Islington care homes as of April 10, with four deaths in the community.

As of 5pm on Monday, 96 people had died with the coronavirus at the Whittington.

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “This is an unprecedented global pandemic and we have taken the right steps at the right time to combat it, guided at all times by the best scientific advice.

“The government has been working day and night to battle against coronavirus, delivering a strategy designed at all times to protect our NHS and save lives.”

On Monday health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “Families of staff who die from coronavirus in the course of their essential frontline work will receive a £60,000 payment.

“Of course, nothing replaces the loss of a loved one but we want to do everything we can to support families who are dealing with this grief.”


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