A Rail Worker Died Of The Coronavirus After Being Spat At By A Man Who Said He Had COVID-19
Police have launched an investigation into the death of Belly Mujinga, who had an 11-year-old daughter.
A member of staff at London's Victoria station died from the coronavirus after being spat at by a man who said he had COVID-19.
Belly Mujinga, 47, a mother to an 11-year-old daughter, was working on the concourse of the station on March 22 when the man spat and coughed on her and a colleague.
"The man asked her what she was doing, why she was there, and she said they were working," her husband, Lusamba Gode Katalay, said. "The man said he had the virus and spat on them. They reported it to their supervisor. Belly came home and told me everything."
Within days, both women fell ill. Mujinga's condition grew worse, and on April 2 she was taken to Barnet Hospital by ambulance, where she was put on a ventilator. She died three days later, 14 days after she was assaulted at Victoria.
Mujinga had an underlying respiratory condition, which she had taken time off work with in the past. The last time her husband saw her was when she was taken away in the ambulance, and just 10 people were allowed to attend her funeral, in line with current UK government guidelines.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Mujinga's bereaved family.
British Transport Police are now investigating the incident, while Mujinga's trade union, the TSSA, has criticised her employer for putting her to work on the frontline.
A spokesperson for UK prime minister Boris Johnson described Mujinga's death as a "tragic case" and a "really shocking incident."
The spokesperson said the government had strengthened the rules around prosecutions, issuing guidance saying coronavirus cases should be treated as the highest priority.
"It is despicable for a key worker to be attacked in this way while serving the travelling public," he said. "Our thoughts are with Mrs Mujinga’s family at this terrible time."
Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary, said he was "shocked and devastated at Belly’s death," and "she is one of far too many frontline workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus."
He continued: "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."
Cortes questioned why as a vulnerable person in the "at risk" category whose health condition was known to her employer, Mujinga was not stood down from the front line at the start of the pandemic.
Angie Doll, managing director of Southern Railway and Gatwick Express, said in a statement: "We are devastated that our dedicated colleague Belly has passed away and our deepest sympathies are with her family with whom we have been in touch through this very difficult time.
"We take any allegations extremely seriously, and we are investigating these claims. 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."
British Transport Police said it had launched an investigation into the incident.
"Enquiries are ongoing and anyone who has any information is asked to contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 and quoting reference 359 of 11/05/20," a statement said.