Britain’s youngest coronavirus victim was laid to rest today by pallbearers wearing protective suits, masks and gloves with his mother and six siblings only able to watch the funeral online because they must stay in self-isolation at home.
13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, from Brixton, south London, died alone at King’s College Hospital in the early hours of Monday.
Today in poignant scenes at Eternal Gardens Muslim Burial Ground in Chislehurst, mourners including uncles and cousins, also wearing PPE clothing, spaced out two metres to observe social distancing rules during prayers and watched in silence as his coffin was lowered into the ground.
While more than 60% of Britons to fall seriously ill from the coronavirus are over 60 there is a tragic and growing number of young lives being taken by the disease.
Ismail’s funeral comes as the partner of a healthy 26-year-old man from Cardiff, Josh Youngman, who died after contracting the virus, urged other young people on Instagram to take the pandemic seriously, warning ‘it’s not just the old and vulnerable.’
The deaths of several young people from the virus have been reported recently, including Mr Youngman, chef Luca Di Nicola, 19, pharmacist Pooja Sharma, 33, and painter and decorator Adam Harkins-Sullivan, 28.
Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13, died alone at King’s College Hospital in London on Monday and was laid to by pallbearers wearing protective suits, masks and gloves
Today Ismail’s mother Sadiya and six siblings were forced to watch his funeral on a live-stream after two in the family suffered coronavirus-like symptoms. Ismail’s father lost his battle with cancer around five years ago, MailOnline understands.
Under Islamic custom, the body is traditionally taken to the mosque first for special prayers but because all places of worship are currently closed, Ismail was straight to the cemetery from a mortuary in south London before his burial.
Ismail, who had no apparent underlying health conditions, has been described by his bereft family as a ‘gentle and kind’ boy with a ‘heartwarming’ smile.
He tested positive for coronavirus last Friday and died three days later after his lungs and heart failed, becoming the first child in the UK to be killed by the virus that has now claimed 3,605 lives.
Mourners at the funeral stood, heads bowed while sticking to the social distancing rules being imposed to stop the spread of the virus that killed young Ismail
The extraordinary scenes at Ismail’s funeral are a poignant reminder of the devastation being caused by coronavirus across the UK
Mourners used their phones to film the funeral for Ismail’s mother and siblings, who had to stay in self-isolation
Family friend Mark Stephenson, who set up an appeal on GoFundMe for the family, said Ismail’s younger brother and older sister have developed mild symptoms including a temperature and loss of taste.
A relative of the boy told MailOnline that the mourners who will attend his funeral were mainly made up of male relatives comprising some of Ismail’s uncles and cousins.
The relative, who does not want to be named, said before the funeral: ‘I have spoken with his mother Sadiya and the rest of the family and not being able to attend Ismail’s funeral has just increased their pain.
‘There has been some talk of live streaming it to them, but I don’t think that’s actually going to ease their suffering.
‘Friends and relatives have been going to the house to pay their respects but not entering it. We’ve just been expressing our sorrow by standing outside and speaking to them as they look out of the window.
‘This is a tragedy for the family. They are well known within the Somali community in Brixton and it is very sad for us all that Ismail will not be give a Muslim burial with all the traditional rituals.’
Undertakers wearing personal protective equipment carry the coffin during the funeral of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, 13,
Ismail was lowered into the ground without his family present as his mother and six siblings are forced to self-isolate
Funerals are technically only meant to have around ten mourners but more attended today while safely observing two metre spaces
Ismail’s family paid a heartbreaking tribute to him on a GoFundMe page to raise money for his funeral expenses
On Wednesday, the NHS confirmed a 13-year-old with no known underlying health condition was among patients who had died after testing positive for Covid-19.
Mr Stephenson, college director at the Madinah College where Ismail’s sister works, set up the GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral costs and for the family, who also lost Ismail’s father to cancer.
By this morning more than £67,000 had been raised, far exceeding the £4,000 target.
Ismail was the youngest victim to die after contracted the virus but the death toll among the young keeps rising.
Josh Youngman, 26
Josh Youngman, 26, who lived in Cardiff, was healthy before contracting the virus but has ‘lost his battle’ to recover.
Partner Charlotte Mills told friends in an Instagram post: ‘Please read this. It’s not just the old and the vulnerable, it’s everyone.’
Josh Youngman, 26, was healthy before contracting the virus but has ‘lost his battle’ to recover (pictured right with partner Charlotte Mills left)
Charlotte said Josh, of Cardiff, South Wales, was her ‘first love’ but had ‘lost his battle’ within a week.
‘Please take this seriously. No one is invincible’, she wrote.
‘I love you. I thought you were the one that I was going to spend my life with.’
‘I want to wake up and see this is all a dream.’
Sound recordist Josh was the son of Rev Chris Youngman of Whitefriars Church in Rushden, Northamptonshire.
Other young victims include a fit and healthy 28-year-old father, a 33-year-old pharmacist who died the day after her dad and Britain’s deputy ambassador to Hungary, 37-year-old Steven Dick.
There are a growing number of people under 40 who are falling victim to the disease, many of whom were fit and healthy before the pandemic struck.
Luca Di Nicola, 19
Luca Di Nicola, originally from Nereto in eastern Italy, worked in a family restaurant in Enfield, north London, as an assistant chef with his mother Clarissa and her partner Vincenzo.
The 19-year-old died in the British capital at the end of March, from apparent fulminant pneumonia.
His heartbroken family have said that they are struggling to come to terms with their grief because ‘he was very healthy’.
Luca Di Nicola was originally from Nereto in eastern Italy, worked in a family restaurant in Enfield, north London. He has died from suspected coronavirus
Giada, Luca’s aunt, from Abruzzo in Italy, told La Repubblica: ‘For a week before his death Luca had a fever and a cough and my sister-in-law Clarissa and her partner Vincenzo who lived in the same house also had it.
‘The London based doctor gave my nephew some paracetamol. But Luca got worse on March 23. The doctor visited him at home and told him that he was young, strong and that he didn’t have to worry about that bad flu.’
However the following day his situation deteriorated as he started to have chest pains and his mother noticed his lips were purple before he collapsed.
His mother and her partner called an ambulance and paramedics revived him but his lungs – that were full of blood and water – collapsed.
Pooja Sharma, 33
Pharmacist Pooja Sharma , 33, worked at Eastbourne District Hospital and died straight after her father.
Pooja Sharma, 33, with her father Sudhir. The father and daughter both died after contracting Covid-19. Pooja was a pharmacist at Eastbourne District Hospital while her father worked as an immigration officer at Heathrow Airport
Her father Sudhir Sharma, an immigration officer at Heathrow Airport, had died the previous day.
A friend of Pooja’s posted online: ‘May their souls rest in peace. Sending my heartiest condolences, prayers and love to their family.’
They added: ‘Please, please, please inform family and friends to take this very seriously and to self-isolate, socially distance themselves as much as possible, for their families if not for themselves.
Adam Harkins-Sullivan, 28
Arsenal fan Adam, father to seven-year-old Harry, was admitted to University College Hospital with pneumonia last week but died after he was placed in an induced coma.
Father-of-one Adam Harkins-Sullivan had a temperate of 39.9C before he was admitted to University College Hospital with pneumonia last week. He was placed in an induced coma but died later
Before the north London painter and decorator was admitted, Adam had been seen by his GP in the surgery’s car park, where his temperature was read at 39.9C, according to the Camden News Journal.
‘We are all just in shock, because he was only a young man,’ said his devastated mother Jackki Harkins, adding: ‘He was healthy. You didn’t have to tell him to eat his greens, he was always like that.
‘He went into hospital with viral pneumonia, but other than that he was healthy. People have got to start taking this seriously. A lot of people think it’s an old person’s disease – but look what has happened to Adam.’
Steven Dick, 37
Britain’s deputy ambassador to Hungary, Steven Dick passed away after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
Steven Dick died from the coronavirus in Hungary. The 37-year-old was Britain’s deputy ambassador to Hungary. He passed away on Tuesday
In a statement, his parents Steven and Carol Dick said: ‘Steven was a much-loved son, grandson and nephew. He was kind, funny and generous
‘It was always his dream to work for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and he was very happy representing our country overseas.
‘We are devastated by his loss and ask for privacy at this tragic time.’
He started his career in 2005 with the Bank of Scotland as a Graduate Trainee, where he spent three years, before moving on to the Migration Directorate at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Aimee O’Rourke, 39
Aimee O’Rourke, 39, passed away last night at the QEQM Hospital in Margate, Kent, following the surfacing of symptoms two weeks ago.
Ms O’Rourke had three daughters, Maddie, Mollie and Meghan, who described her mother as an ‘angel’ who will ‘wear [her] NHS crown forever more’.
Aimee O’Rourke, 39, passed away last night at the QEQM Hospital in Margate, Kent, following the surfacing of symptoms two weeks ago
Areema Nasreen, 36
Areema Nasreen, 36, died shortly after midnight in intensive care at Walsall Manor Hospital, West Midlands, were she had worked
Areema Nasreen, 36, a Walsall staff nurse and mother-of-three, has died from coronavirus, becoming the country’s youngest health worker to be killed by the disease
A heartbroken relative of Ms Nasreen today paid tribute to the mother-of-three and said: ‘The immediate family are devastated. Everyone is in shock this morning.
‘She was always so full of life. She was devoted to her job as a nurse, she absolutely loved it. She passed away doing what she loved.
‘I’m really sad for the rest of the family, she was a fantastic person.’
Labour MP apologises and is spoken to by police for breaching coronavirus lockdown rules after he attended funeral with up to 100 mourners
By Darren Boyle for MailOnline
A Labour MP who went to a funeral as an ‘observer’ has been spoken to by police about a suspected breach of the coronavirus lockdown.
Birmingham Hall Green MP Tahir Ali, who reportedly attended two funerals on Wednesday, was said to have undermined the work of the police by his area’s crime commissioner.
Mr Ali has issued an unreserved apology for confusion caused by his attendance at a funeral at Sutton New Hall Cemetery, amid community calls for limits on numbers attending to be raised.
Police were called to the site after up to 100 people were reported to have attended, although only 15 mourners were there when police arrived.
In a series of tweets, West Midlands Police said: ‘Following recent media coverage of a large gathering of mourners at a funeral in Birmingham earlier this week, we can confirm that we have spoken to Tahir Ali MP about a suspected breach of #coronavirus restrictions.
Police were called to a funeral attended by a Labour MP In Birmingham after they were told a large group of mourners had turned up to the service in Sutton Coldfield on Wednesday
Labour MP Tahir Ali, pictured, said he attended two funerals as an ‘observer’ and said authorities should reduce restrictions as long as mourners adhere to social distancing guidelines
‘We warned Mr Ali about his behaviour and reminded him of the clear need for everyone to follow the rules surrounding social distancing and the guidelines that have been issued around funerals.
‘New restrictions have been placed on the numbers of mourners that can attend funerals in order to help stop the spread of #COVID-19. We would urge people to check their local authority websites for guidance. It is vital people follow these rules.’
Police said that when they arrived at the council-run cemetery, officers ‘found approximately 15 people socially distanced into family groups, therefore no action was taken’.
The West Midlands’ police and crime commissioner David Jamieson said on Friday that Mr Ali had been irresponsible and was not setting a proper example to his constituents.
In a statement responding to Mr Jamieson’s comments, Mr Ali said: ‘I apologise unreservedly for the confusion caused by my presence as an observer at a funeral in Sutton Coldfield on Wednesday.
‘I will not be attending any other similar gatherings.
‘I wholeheartedly support the Government’s measures on social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus and urge everyone to follow them, in all our interests.
‘I want to pay particular tribute to the outstanding work being done by our police, NHS and other statutory bodies in these most challenging of circumstances.
‘It is clear that the message is not getting through and that a unified approach is needed by local authorities in the West Midlands and across the UK, with explicit guidance on funeral attendance, to avoid a repeat of Wednesday’s scenes.’
West Midlands Police arrived at the cemetery but found that social distancing guidelines were still being adhered to as the mourners congregating together all came from the same households
One witness said they were surprised they saw Mr Ali among the mourners at the funeral
The MP added that he wanted to play his part in establishing a set of clear rules that allow a safe number of mourners, while doing everything necessary to protect the NHS and save lives.
In his statement, Mr Jamieson said: ‘Tahir has been totally irresponsible and is letting his constituents down.
‘Mr Ali is not serving his constituents by endangering their lives.
‘Those in positions of civic leadership should be setting an example to all of the public. I would urge him to stop his intended funeral attendance in other boroughs too.’
Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods, Sharon Thompson, said: ‘For anyone who suffers a bereavement, it is a difficult and painful time.
‘However, in these circumstances, measures have been put in place for one reason and that is to keep people safe.
‘What we saw earlier this week with large numbers of mourners turning up at a cemetery simply cannot continue to happen. Not only does it place funeral staff in an extremely difficult position, but it puts lives at risk.’
Funerals during Covid-19 lockdown
According to newly-released government guidelines the number of mourners should be restricted to allow a safe distance of at least two metres between mourners.
Only the following people should attend the service:
- members of the person’s household
- close family members
- if the deceased has neither household or family members in attendance, then it is possible for a modest number friends to attend
- mourners should also follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering.
The following people should not attend funerals under any circumstances:
- individuals who have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), or who are part of a household where someone has symptoms, or who are vulnerable to severe infection should not participate in rituals or religious gatherings
- mourners should not take part in rituals or practices that bring them into close contact with the body. Contact with the body should be restricted to those who are wearing PPE and have been trained in the appropriate use of PPE
The council said social distancing was the most important consideration in deciding how many mourners could attend a funeral in the city.
Ms Thompson said: ‘While we very much wish circumstances were different, we are looking to act as responsibly as we can and to keep our citizens safe.’
Meanwhile, the Nightingale Hospital being built at the Birmingham NEC will be open and fully operational on April 12, senior regional health chiefs have said.
There will be a ‘mock-up’ running on April 10, with doors opening to patients two days later.
The site on the outskirts of Birmingham, just off the M42, will initially have a 500-bed capacity which can be scaled up to about 1,500 or more if needed.
Nick Page, of the West Midlands and Warwickshire strategic co-ordination group (SCG), said the hospital will begin ‘full admission’ by the end of next week.
Speaking at a webinar of regional civic, health and transport chiefs on Friday, Mr Page, who is Solihull council chief executive, said: ‘The 10th of April is when the Birmingham Nightingale Hospital will be ready to see patients.
‘As I understand it, they will be running the mock up of that on April 10 ready to start full admission in and around the April 12.’
He added that Birmingham’s first drive-through Covid-19 testing station for NHS workers is being set up at Edgbaston cricket ground, and it will be fully operational by Monday.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said that following a call to health chiefs earlier on Friday, no further testing sites in the region are scheduled to open – but he added: ‘They are looking to change that very shortly.’
The NHS Nightingale Hospital in London was formally opened at the ExCel centre on Friday by the Prince of Wales, who spoke via video-link from Balmoral.
The facility, named after nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, will need an army of up to 16,000 staff in clinical and ancillary roles to keep it running.
Split into more than 80 wards containing 42 beds each, the facility will be used to treat Covid-19 patients who have been transferred from other intensive care units across London.
It was set up by NHS contractors in just over a week with the assistance of around 200 military personnel.
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