Black Mother Dies From The Coronavirus One Day After Being Told She Wasn't A 'Priority' Patient
Just one day after calling for an ambulance, Kayla Williams died from the coronavirus.
March 25, 2020 at 7:48 pm
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the world, heartbreaking stories of related deaths are beginning to emerge, particularly amongst people who tried to seek help but were turned away by the overburdened healthcare system.
Kayla Williams, a 36-year-old mother of three from Peckham in South London, died just one day after calling for emergency services and being told she was "not a priority," according to The Guardian.
Her husband, 49-year-old Fabian Williams, recounted the tragic story in an interview with The Guardian, telling the newspaper that he called 999, the British equivalent of 911, on Friday after his wife fell sick.
She was suffering from a cough and high fever as well as severe chest and stomach pains when Fabian called for help.
“I called 999 because my wife was breathless, she was vomiting and she had pains in her stomach. As I was talking to them she was getting worse and they told me to put her on the floor and to make her body flat,” Fabian said, adding that eventually, medical help arrived at 8:32 a.m.
“She told me the hospital won’t take her, she is not a priority. She did not stay very long and she went outside to write her report and posted it through the door,” Fabian added.
The Guardian was able to confirm his story after looking at documents from paramedics that identified her as a COVID-19 patient. Despite her diagnosis, paramedics left her at the apartment. The next morning Fabian made his wife some food and helped her get dressed, but her condition continued to deteriorate. He took a nap and woke up to find Kayla with her head down.
“She was already dead. I put her on the ground – because that is what they had told me to do before – and I rang 999 again and they told me to put my hand on her chest and pump her chest," he said.
To add insult to injury, police officers later showed up at Fabian's apartment but refused to enter out of fear of contracting the coronavirus themselves. Fabian told the British newspaper about the appalling actions of the police, paramedics and funeral service officials. He said little was explained to him before people showed up at his door with full forensic suits, masks, visors, gloves and foot covers.
They wrapped his wife's body tightly in a sheet before putting her in a body bag and leaving, telling Fabian that he needed to stay home.
“I have heard nothing since. They have left me here and said I must isolate. They haven’t told me anything else. I am a diabetic. I take insulin. All I know is I am supposed to isolate. No one has mentioned her body being tested or anything,” he said.
The Guardian contacted the ambulance service and was given a statement that provided few answers. In the files seen by the newspaper, paramedics confirmed that Kayla was suffering from symptoms of COVID-19 but was advised “self-care, use antipyretics, increase food/fluid” as well as isolation for Fabian and their children.
"We were called at 8.32am on Friday 20 March to reports of a person unwell at an address in Peckham. Our clinicians treated a patient and advised them to call back if their condition changed. We were called the following day at 3.24pm and sent a number of resources, with our first medics arriving in under seven minutes. Sadly, the patient had died. Our sympathy is with the family at this time. We are working incredibly hard in these unprecedented times to look after Londoners,” the paramedic service said.
The response online was harsh, with many questioning what paramedics meant when they said Kayla wasn't a priority.
This tragedy would almost certainly not have had Kayla Williams not been a black woman.
It is less well documented than in the US, but black women in the UK also face similar structural obstacles to receiving adequate healthcare. https://t.co/V89Tcp79B6
— Louis Allday (@Louis_Allday) March 25, 2020
The news of the death of Kayla Williams is so heavy this evening. Black women being told we are "not priorities" during a global health pandemic whilst members of the celebrity class and Royal family have immediate, round the clock access to testing and healthcare. No words.
— jade bentil (@divanificent) March 25, 2020
Kayla Williams, 36, a [black] mother of three, had symptoms of a cough, high fever, vomiting and severe chest and stomach pains. Sadly she died on Saturday – a day after paramedics were called to her home. Why was she was not considered a priority? #COVIDー19
— Dr Zubaida Haque (@Zubhaque) March 25, 2020
If Kayla Williams wasn’t a priority with all the symptoms full blown, then who the hell is a priority?!!
We’ve got celebrities getting tested without symptoms whilst mothers are left to die at home. https://t.co/wwBrB5gJiq
— Chancy With AIH & Mental Health (@SOCIALLYCRUSHED) March 25, 2020
The United Kingdom has more than 8,000 coronavirus cases, and at least 434 people have died from the virus, according to The Sun.
Researchers at the University of Oxford believe at least half of the U.K. population may already have the coronavirus.