UK railway worker dies from Covid-19 after being spat on

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Belly Mujinga, 47, was spat at on the concourse at Victoria Station, central London.

Belly Mujinga, 47, was spat at on the concourse at Victoria Station, central London.

A railway ticket office worker has died from Covid-19 after being spat on while she was working at Victoria station in central London.

Belly Mujinga, 47, was working with a colleague when a member of the public assaulted them, spat and coughed over them and said he had the novel coronavirus, said her union, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), in a statement Tuesday.

Mujinga, who had an underlying health condition, was working for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) on the station concourse at the time of the incident on March 22.
British Transport Police said in a statement that an investigation into the incident had been launched.

Mrs Mujinga was admitted to Barnet Hospital on 2 April and was put on a ventilator. But she died three days later, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), said.

‘Caring person’

Mr Katalay said he called his wife on a video app when she was in hospital, but didn’t hear from her again.

“I thought she might be asleep, but the doctor phoned me to tell me she had died,” he said.

“She was a good person, a good mother, and a good wife. She was a caring person and would take care of everybody.”

Ten people attended Mrs Mujinga’s funeral, including her 11-year-old daughter.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We are shocked and devastated at Belly’s death. She is one of far too many front-line workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus.”

The union added that there were “serious questions about her death”.

“Belly and her colleague begged to be let to work from inside the building with a protective barrier between them and the public for the rest of that day,” TSSA said in its statement.

“Management said they needed people working outside and sent them back out onto the concourse for the rest of their shift.”

Both women went back outside and completed their shift, added the union, but they had no personal protective equipment.

“As a vulnerable person in the ‘at-risk’ category, and her condition known to her employer, there are questions about why she wasn’t stood down from frontline duties early on in this pandemic,” Mr Cortes said.

The union says GTR knew about her condition and, even after the incident, only stood Mujinga down after her doctor called her work around March 25.
Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary, accused GTR of not taking Mujinga’s assault “seriously enough” and criticised the company.

“As a vulnerable person in the ‘at risk’ category and her condition known to her employer, there are questions about why GTR didn’t stand her down from front line duties early on in this pandemic,” Cortes said in the TSSA statement. “There are serious questions about her death, it wasn’t inevitable.”

Ms Mujinga’s employer, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), said it “took any allegations extremely seriously” and that it was investigating all claims.

Angie Doll, of GTR, said: “The safety of our customers and staff, who are key workers themselves, continues to be front of mind at all times and we follow the latest government advice.”

The union says there is not enough guidance or protection for workers on the front line, such as Mujinga.

“Rather than talking about the easing the lockdown, the government must first ensure that the right precautions and protections have been taken so that more lives are not lost,” Cortes said.

Our rail industry needs to have a very serious look at what tasks are deemed ‘essential’ and must put protections in place for all our members and our passengers.

The TSSA also called on the government to implement additional measures to compensate frontline workers from the railway industry for their work during these difficult times.

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