The sister of a Fiji woman who died of Covid-19 last month has spoken out about the loss as the virus continues to ravage the island nation.
Fiji’s Health Ministry has reported a record number of 21 deaths from the virus, along with 1091 new cases in the 24 hours to 8am on Wednesday.
The deaths occurred between 14 July and 20 July.
Janice Stewart is the sister of Maree Stewart, a radio presenter who sadly passed away from the virus late last month.
Janice, who has been admitted to hospital three times this year with asthma and bronchitis, was warned by her doctor that Covid “was coming to Suva” and that she should not come into hospital again.
She said she tried to change her lifestyle so she would never have to revisit hospital.
Janice's son however developed symptoms of the virus on Monday 21 June, then Maree’s son developed a fever later that night.
Maree went to get medication for her son on Tuesday but in the evening, Janice “started feeling body pains”. She says she “had a feeling” she had Covid and went to get a test.
Within three hours she got a positive result.
She says she was “grief stricken” because she’d been so careful not to leave the house but thinks she caught the virus from her son.
Janice was admitted to the mild Covid ward on Wednesday 23 June. On Thursday morning, she says “the whole family” were swabbed and confirmed positive on Friday.
She says her oxygen levels were down but was not out of breath.
Her sister was then admitted on June 26 but died on June 28 from the virus.
“Within two days she was gone. She was in ICU – we were contacting her and she was talking to us but she only messaged us because she could not talk because she had the oxygen mask on her full time.”
Janice says she wanted to visit her sister but because Maree’s case was so severe, it was too risky to go and visit her.
But on Wednesday doctors told Janice she could see her sister. At 4pm local time as she was on her way, Janice says her sister had already passed away.
“So I didn’t get to see her, I didn’t get to say bye.”
Janice says her husband called her to tell her Maree had died.
“We weren’t allowed to touch her or anything,” Janice says.
She says her whole family – 13 in all had the virus - now the family is trying to cope with the loss.
“We can’t believe at 39 she is really gone and she left behind a son… we are trying our best to cope and do all we can to help him,” she says.