Congolese rail worker in London dies of COVID-19 after commuter with virus spat on her

Francis Akhalbey May 13, 2020 at 08:30am

May 13, 2020 at 08:30 am | News

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Staff Writer

May 13, 2020 at 08:30 am | News

Belly Mujinga, 47, died of coronavirus after being spat at -- Photo via ITV

A Congolese railway ticket office worker in London has died of COVID-19 after a commuter who claimed to have the deadly virus spat and coughed at her while she was on duty.

According to ITV, the deceased, Belly Mujinga, 47, and her colleague were at post at the Victoria station in London on March 22 when they were approached by a man claiming to have the virus. He then went ahead to spit and cough at them.

“The man asked her what she was doing, why she was there, and she said they were working. The man said he had the virus and spat on them. They reported it to their supervisor. Belly came home and told me everything,” her husband, Lusamba Gode Katalay, said.

Mujinga and her colleague contracted the virus days after the assault. She passed away on April 5 after being admitted at a hospital and placed on a ventilator. The mother to an 11-year-old girl, Mujinga had underlying respiratory issues and underwent an operation a few years back.

“We are shocked and devastated at Belly’s death. She is one of far too many frontline workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus. Sadly, Belly’s is just one of many family tragedies where children have had their parents taken away from them. However, there are serious questions about her death; it wasn’t inevitable,” General Secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association TSSA, Manuel Cortes, said.

“As a vulnerable person in the ‘at risk’ category, and her condition known to her employer, there are questions about why she wasn’t stood down from frontline duties early on in this pandemic.”

He continued: “Rather than talking about the easing the lockdown, the Government must first ensure that the right precautions and protections have been taken so that more lives are not lost.

“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 incident is currently being investigated by the British Transport Police, ITV further reports. TSSA, however, alleges that Mujinga’s employers, Govia Thameslink Railway, did not immediately lodge a complaint to the police despite Mujinga and her colleague asking them to do so after they reported the assault.

Mujinga’s cousin and a colleague also told The Guardian her employers knew she had respiratory problems but still made her work on the concourse without PPE despite the deceased raising concerns. Even after the spitting incident, they alleged she was ordered to go back to her post on the concourse even though she was visibly shaken as a result of the assault.

“She shouldn’t have been sent out without any PPE. We want justice for Belly. They need to find the person who did it. And the company should compensate the family; her daughter doesn’t have a mother any more. They should protect those who are left,” her cousin said.

A representative of the company released a statement saying they “take any allegations extremely seriously” and have launched an investigation.

“The safety of our customers and staff, who are key workers themselves, continues to be front of mind at all times and we follow the latest government advice. We urge people only to travel if it is absolutely essential.”

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, labeled the assault as “despicable.”

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