COVID-19: 24 hours after hearing about recovery, man's family in Vakola learns of his death

Updated: 06 April, 2020 08:57 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

On Saturday afternoon, Andrew's wife Maria told mid-day that she was informed he has started showing signs of improvement. However, early on Sunday morning, his health started deteriorating.

Andrew Fernandes
Andrew Fernandes

Andrew Fernandes's death in Miami, USA, on Sunday came as shock to his family in Vakola, who were, less than 24 hours ago, told that he was improving. Andrew, 48, was working on board Costa Favolosa cruise ship when he contracted Coronavirus.

On Saturday afternoon, Andrew's wife Maria told mid-day that she was informed he has started showing signs of improvement. "My prayers are being heard. I am told he will soon be kept on antibiotics and I hope he returns to us soon," she had said.

However, early on Sunday morning, his health started deteriorating; his lungs was severely infected and was put on dialysis a couple of days back. Around 2 am, the family received a call from Larkin Community Hospital, which informed them that Andrew had died. His sisters said while Maria is still in shock, they haven't told the four children that their father is no more.

Andrew Fernandes. File pic
Andrew Fernandes. File pic

The hospital staff informed us that the doctors tried to check if Andrew's lung was able to function with reduced oxygen supply on ventilator, so they lowered the level, said Rosy, his sister. But when his lungs could not handle low oxygen inflow, they increases the level. Andrew's condition deteriorated further, he was put on dialysis and medications were started, but suddenly his heart stopped working. They then declared him dead, Rosy added. The family said they still do not have clarity on the cause of his death.

"My brother never had any health issues, but he was unwell since March 19, and was treated on the cruise with paracetamol and the COVID-19 tests came back negative twice. After a few passengers tested positive, the company should have let everyone disembark, but instead they continued sailing. My brother spent 12 precious days in his cabin and when he finally disembarked at Miami coast his oxygen level had started lowering," Rosy added.

Even as the family was dealing with the shocking news, they found out that Andrew's employers had no idea about his demise.

Family irked with firm
Andrew elder sister Adelaide, who has been following up with hospitals and her contacts in Miami, said, "It is unfortunate that the cabin crew welfare officer and Costa Favolosa representative at Miami Port did not know about my brother's demise. They didn't even do anything to shift my brother to a better hospital for the advance treatment he urgently needed."

Adelaide said when she contacted a Costa representative in Mimai, he asked how Andrew was. "I was shocked. I told him that my brother had died." "My brother served the company for 17 years, and this is how they treat the family. Till now we haven't received a single phone call from any of the senior company representative," she added.

The cabin crew welfare officer later told her, in response to her email, that "they are doing the needful for repatriating Andrew's body and that a person is being appointed to coordinate with the family", Adelaide. But she suspects they are telling the truth. She said her sources in Miami told her that COVID-19 patients' bodies are being cremated there itself.

Meanwhile, Costa Favolosa is sailing to an unknown destination, said sources on board the cruise ship. According to official data, so far 195 people have died in Florida, including 32 in Miami.

Brian Miranda, a former corporator from the area, told mid-day, "My family and I are in deep agony for we have lost our beloved Andrew. I don't have the courage to even speak to Maria. She is inconsolable and has been praying for a miracle." An official at the Ministry of External Affair told mid-day that the family will have to contact the "Consulate General of India in Atlanta, USA, and only they will be able to clarify if repatriation of Coronavirus deceased... is permitted in the present scenario."

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First Published: 06 April, 2020 07:33 IST

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