Female transit worker, 47, who was spat on by sick traveler dies from coronavirus weeks later
A British transit worker died of COVID-19 two weeks after an infected traveler reportedly spat on her.
47-year-old Belly Mujinga was working in London’s Victoria Station on March 22 when she was attacked by a man who coughed over her and one of her colleagues, according to a statement by UK transport union TSSA.
Mujinga's devastated husband Lusamba Gode Katalay told ITV how "the man said he had the virus and spat on them."
Both women fell ill with COVID-19 just days after the attack. And on April 5, exactly two weeks after the incident, Mujinga succumbed to the disease in Barnet Hospital. Her unnamed colleague has made a full recovery from her home.
Katalay told ITV that his wife — who was also the mother of an 11-year-old girl — had underlying respiratory problems. He said she was taken to the London hospital after she fell ill within a week of being spat at.
“That was the last time I saw her. We just said, ‘Be good,’ and that God is in charge,” he said. “We did a WhatsApp video in hospital, but then I didn’t hear from her again. I thought she might be asleep, but the doctor phoned me to tell me she had died."
The heartbroken husband also revealed how only eight other people were allowed to join him and his daughter at his wife's funeral due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“She was a good person, a good mother, and a good wife,” Katalay said of his wife. “She gave her friendship to many people. She was a caring person and would take care of everybody.”
Mujinga, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, had moved to the UK in 2000
“We are shocked and devastated at Belly’s death," Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said in the statement. "She is one of far too many front-line workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock recently announced that £60,000 would be paid to the survivors of health and care workers who die as a result of the pandemic. Our view is that this compensation should be extended to the families of all front-line workers who perish trying to keep our country and vital services going."
"Sadly, Belly’s is just one of many family tragedies where children have had their parents taken away from them," he continued. "However, there are serious questions about her death, it wasn’t inevitable. As a vulnerable person in the ‘at risk’ category and her condition known to her employer, there are questions about why GTR didn’t stand her down from front line duties early on in this pandemic."
"The assault she suffered at work was scary and we do not think the company treated it seriously enough," he added.
Cortes said the government must first ensure that "the right precautions and protections have been taken so that more lives are not lost" rather than talking about "easing the lockdown."
"Anyone who is vulnerable should remain at home and home working should be the default wherever possible," he explained. "Our rail industry needs to have a very serious look at what tasks are deemed ‘essential’ and must put protections in place for all our members and our passengers.”
The British Transport Police is currently investigating the attack and has called for witnesses to come forward, ITV confirmed.