May 6 COVID Dispersion

Akash Samaroo

A Siparia father and son have both died of COVID-19 as 38-year-old Nigel Ramkalawan and his 66-year-old father Premnath succumbed to the virus just hours apart.

Family members told Guardian Media that Nigel was the first to go on Wednesday.

It is believed by relatives that he contracted the disease aboard a vessel headed to an offshore platform and infected the entire household, located at Murray Trace, San Francique Village.

On the night of his death, his sister-in-law Verlenie Dass-Ramkalawan, 28, said Nigel was struggling to breathe and was in and out of consciousness. Dass-Ramakalwan said they dialled the 811 hotline but it took hours for an ambulance to arrive. When the ambulance eventually came, Nigel was unconscious.

“The medics resuscitated him and he only woke up for about less than a few seconds to tell his parents that he’s going and Nigel never came back after that. They tried to resuscitate him again but Nigel never came back,” Dass-Ramkalawan said in an interview with Guardian Media.

She described him as an ambitious and well mannered young man who was a role model in the village.

Hours later, while the family was reminiscing about Nigel, his father Premnath started feeling ill.

“In his final moments at home he was spitting up blood and his eyes rolled back into his head. We tried to resuscitate him at home but to no avail. At this point, we had to leave quarantine and take him to the Siparia Health Facility where he was pronounced dead.”

Dass-Ramkalawan said just like it was the night before, they tried to get an ambulance for over two hours without success.

She said this highlights the strain that COVID-19 is placing on the health system.

“From this experience, it clearly shows that our health facilities and systems are not able to deal with just how serious this is. They don’t have enough staff and they don’t have enough ambulances, but our medical officer Ms Hector was amazing.”

During the interview, Dass-Ramkalawan was interrupted frequently by her two-year-old son who is also infected, along with his one-year-old sister. Dass-Ramkalawan said she is trying to stay strong for the family.

“It is difficult to come to terms with the fact we lost two loved ones to COVID-19 in just a few hours and each family member is dealing with it in their own way. I’m a mother of two children and the wife of someone who lost their brother and father so I need to be that support system for him so I will deal with it in my way.”

Dass-Ramkalawan urged members of the public to take this virus seriously and stop complaining about measures put in place for their protection.

“Follow the guidelines. COVID-19 is not a joke, it is very real, it takes lives and we need to mask up and follow the protocols. We need to sanitise, we need to social distance and we should not get upset with Government’s regulations, they are put there to protect us.

The Ramkalawans would have to get family members who do not have the virus to oversee arrangements for the funerals which involves getting the death certificates and cremation permits.

Dass-Ramkalawan said that for now, they are anxiously monitoring the health of the infants in the family.