NIGERIAN nurse Esther Akinsanya has become the latest member of the UK diaspora to succumb to the coronavirus pandemic after contracting the virus in the London hospital where she worked.
Mother-of-two Esther Akinsanya, 55, died on April 15 and her sister Mary Idowu, 61,who is also a nurse and lived with her is now also infected and on a ventilator in intensive care. Both sisters worked at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and two weeks ago, they were rushed to the hospital within hours of each other.
Ms Akinsanya, a devoted and diligent National Health Service (NHS) nurse for more than 20 years, had finished her last shift two days before being admitted. It is understood the sisters had been issued with personal protective equipment in line with government guidelines for those not working in intensive care units but it was not enough to save them.
Samuel, Akinsanya, 26, Mrs Akinsanya’s son, who lived with his mother and aunt in Thamesmead, said: “We are heartbroken. My mother lit up a room when she walked in, it was impossible not to like her.”
“They are tough women they didn’t mention the dangers they just got on with their jobs. They both tested positive and are convinced they got it at work.
“These heroes like my mum and aunt need to be protected. It’s just not good enough that people on the front line are dying like this.”
With deaths like this, there have been calls for the level of protection for staff on general wards to be raised. In the UK, the government has said the outbreak has so far killed 69 NHS workers and 15 care workers but there are fears the total of health worker deaths is more than 100.
According to Mr Akinsanya, his mother had no known underlying health issue other than high blood pressure. His aunt has a heart condition and diabetes but since she has been on the ventilator, she has improved slightly.
“She is responding they have lowered the sedation. She is still fighting,” Mr Akinsanya added.
A fund for Mrs Akinsanya’s funeral and family has so far raised more than £14,000. Earlier this week, Ben Travis, the chief executive of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust confirmed the death of a second nurse, mother-of-two Grace Kungwengwe who worked at Lewisham hospital.