London – Britain’s youngest coronavirus victim died alone without his family by his side, heartbroken relatives said on Wednesday.
Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, spent his final moments in hospital isolation because of the highly infectious nature of the virus.
On Wednesday night the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: ‘We don’t think this should be happening. No child should be dying alone in hospital.’
NHS England Wednesday confirmed the schoolboy, who dreamt of becoming a vet, had no known underlying health conditions.
Friends of the family, who are originally from Somalia, said he was not overweight and loved playing sport. He died on Monday morning, three days after being admitted to London’s King’s College Hospital with breathing difficulties.
He had been placed on a ventilator and then in an induced coma. Ismail’s father died of cancer five years ago and his mother – a carer – and six siblings were unable to be at the youngster’s bedside. Ismail’s family, of Brixton, south London, said in the statement: ‘He passed away without his family present and this is very painful for us.’
They added: ‘Ismail was a loving son, brother, nephew to our family and a friend to many people who knew him. His smile was heartwarming and he was always gentle and kind. We as a family are still trying to come to terms with the sudden death of Ismail. He leaves behind six siblings who are completely devastated and this has been made more difficult not being able to be with Ismail while he was in the hospital.’
They decided not to release a photo of him. Family friend Mohammed Motlib said: ‘The scariest part of this disease is that people like Ismail are passing away without holding the hands of their loved ones. Ismail’s family still can’t even have people round for condolences because they have to stay in isolation.’ Downing Street described the death as a tragedy, with a spokesman saying: ‘The Prime Minister’s thoughts are with the family.’ Last night a fundraising page set up on GoFundMe to cover the £4,000 funeral costs had topped £70,000.
Meanwhile, a former medical director who came out of retirement to help the overstretched NHS in 2018 has become the latest doctor to die from the virus.
Dr Alfa Saadu, 68, was hailed as a ‘legend’ by relatives yesterday who revealed that he died after a two-week illness. The medic, who worked for the NHS for almost 40 years after moving to Britain from his native Nigeria aged eight, is thought to be the fourth UK doctor to die from Covid-19.
The father-of-two from north London had retired in 2017.
As the virus took hold across Britain, Mr Saadu continued working voluntarily as a consultant physician at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Hertfordshire.
David Cameron’s Oxford University tutor has also died after suffering the virus. Economist Peter Sinclair, 73, was described as a ‘much-loved colleague’.
Yesterday it emerged that a British man was among four dead on luxury cruise ship MS Zaandam which is stricken with coronavirus and is applying for permission to dock in the US.