Man, son die hours apart from covid19 in Siparia


Andy Ramkalawan collects items for his family that were left by well wishers on a chair in front of the gate to the family’s home at Murray Trace, Woodland, Siparia on Thursday. – ROGER JACOB

A Siparia family in quarantine had to go through the trauma of seeing not one but two of their loved ones rapidly decline and die from the covid19 virus while they awaited the arrival of ambulances.

Pensioner Premnath Ramkalawan, 66, died around 5 am on Thursday, while his son Mahindra Nigel, 38, died a few hours earlier, on Wednesday, at about 3 pm.

In grief, Ramkalawan’s daughter-in-law Verlenie Dass-Ramkalawan urged the public to follow Government’s covid19 guidelines.

“Please, people, follow the regulations. Please do not take it lightly. Do not blame the Government for locking down the country. It is for our safety,” she said on Thursday afternoon.

“We waited three hours for an ambulance to come for Nigel on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning, we wait another three hours for one to come and pick up my father-in-law.”

Relatives stood in the yard on Thursday when Newsday visited. Newsday interviewed the family from inside a car several metres away.

Dass-Ramkalawan said Nigel worked with the Kenson Group of Companies. He was last contracted to work at Heritage Petroleum in Point Fortin to inspect the integrity of the company’s assets. He did not have any children.

He lived with his father and mother, Sumentra, 56, brother Andy, 29, Andy’s wife, Dass-Ramkalawan, and their two children, ages one and two, at Murray Trace.

The surviving relatives are now mourning in isolation, considering Sumentra, Dass-Ramkalawan, 28, and her one-year-old daughter tested positive.

The family is awaiting the test results for Andy and his two-year-old son. They too are home-quarantined in the same house.

She said Nigel is believed to have contracted the virus at work. A co-worker listed him as a primary contact last week. On Sunday, health officials contacted and asked him to self-quarantine at home.

On Monday, Nigel and his mother did the test at a private institution in San Fernando. The next day, he got the results.

Dass-Ramkalawan said health officials instructed the entire family to quarantine.

Last Friday, the rest of the family did the test at the Penal Health Centre.

On Tuesday, officials confirmed that Ramkalawan, his wife, Dass-Ramkalawan, and her daughter, were positive.

Up to Thursday, they were still waiting for test results for Andy and his and Dass-Ramkalawan’s two-year-old son.

Speaking to Newsday from a distance over the phone, Dass-Ramkalawan said, “In the beginning, Nigel and my father-in-law were feeling well. My father-in-law only had a slight sore throat.

“On Tuesday, Nigel had some difficulty breaking. Someone bought and dropped off an oxygen tank with a mask and regulator at the gate.

“By Wednesday, he was much better than he was the day before. Then, he started getting short breaths to the point he was unable to finish a sentence. Within half an hour, he couldn’t finish a word. Then he went silent.”

During that time, the family was repeatedly calling for an ambulance. The people who answered the phone on the other end kept saying one was on its way from La Romaine.

Dass-Ramkalawan continued, “His condition was deteriorating quickly. Although he was on oxygen, he could not breathe properly.”

With no medical training, relatives tried to resuscitate him.

Before entirely losing consciousness, he uttered his last words.

“Allyuh ah going. Daddy ah going,” Dass-Ramkalawan quoted him as saying.

An ambulance came and took him to the Siparia District Health Facility, where doctors declared him dead.

“His mother was inconsolable. Her husband started to console her, telling her they were lucky to have such a wonderful son for 38 years,” Dass-Ramkalawan continued.

“He said no father should have to see his son die. He was saying he was proud to be Nigel’s father. He was normal and calm. ”

Ramkalawan, she said, went to sleep around 1 am. Half an hour later, he and his wife got up, and he drank a cup of tea.

Shortly after 2 am, his wife alerted the family that Ramkalawan was having problems breathing.

Dass-Ramkalawan said, “I called 811 and wasn’t getting an answer. Eventually, I got through and explained the situation. I called about ten to 15 times. They even accused me of tying up the line. He was in the same condition as Nigel was the day before.

“We tried CPR with the little knowledge we have. His eyes started to roll. My husband put him in his personal vehicle and took him to the Siparia facility where he died at daybreak.”

Dass-Ramkalawan said when the ambulance reached, Ramkalawan was already dead.

Because the family cannot leave home, relatives have been dropping off items on a chair at the front gate.

On funeral arrangements, the relatives are unsure if they would be allowed to attend.

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