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17 family members infected with COVID-19 at funeral

As many as 17 members of the same English family are thought to have caught coronavirus after attending a funeral together.

Since the February funeral, one family member has died of coronavirus while another relative is also very unwell and "probably not going to survive it".

It comes as the Australian Government restricted the size of funerals to just 10 people in a decision that has divided people.

Sheila Brooks, 86, died last month and nearly all of her extended family attended her funeral service in Yardley Wood, Birmingham, on March 13.

But within days her niece Susan Nelson, 65, who had no underlying health conditions, became ill and died of suspected COVID-19.

Unlike Australia, in the UK the majority of tests for coronavirus are only performed when a seriously ill person presents to hospital.

 

Those showing mild symptoms of coronavirus are not tested and instead told to self-isolate at home and only seek medical help if their condition worsens.

Now a further 16 family members all suspect they have the virus after catching it at the funeral - including Susan's husband, daughter, a niece and a great-uncle.

Susan's daughter Amanda, 34, suffers from Addison's disease and is currently isolating at home with her father, Robert.

"It was my great aunt's funeral so a lot of the wider family were there," she said.

"She died back in February, but we have just had so many people contract the virus that I can only think it was from then.

"We now have someone else in our family in hospital that's probably not going to survive it.

"My 21-year-old cousin has it, right the way up to a great uncle that is 88 and is showing some symptoms."

Amanda said a "whole section" of her family appears to have caught coronavirus and have been showing symptoms since attending the funeral together.

 

 

"I would say around 17 family members have been displaying symptoms since going to that funeral. It's hit young and old in our family," she said.

"Our beautiful, caring mum was the centre of the family - we are a very close, large family and this has destroyed us."

Amanda's mum Susan fell ill a week after attending Sheila's funeral and was rushed to hospital on March 23 after becoming gravely ill.

She died in Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital with her husband Robert by her side.

Susan's son Carl is one of the few family members not showing coronavirus symptoms and wasn't allowed to be at his mother's side when she died.

 

"Because I had none of the symptoms, I couldn't go and my sister was too unwell battling the illness herself, " he said.

"People can end up dying on their own. Fortunately, my dad Robert was able to go and be with her when she died.

Tragically, the family are unable to make funeral arrangements for Susan due to the clampdown on mass gatherings.

Current social distancing measures in the UK have restricted funeral attendance to just immediate family members.

"It's the practical things as well. All of my family are isolated, so I may have to drive down to pick up the relevant forms from the hospital to register her death," Carl said.

"While I am doing all that, I won't be able to see my family, I will just have to drive back up north.

"It's not good and it's not right. I don't blame anyone, I totally understand the reasons why it has to be this way."

Originally published as 17 family members infected at funeral


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