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A grieving daughter whose father died a painful death at home 12 days after contracting Covid-19 says he tried to get help for his worsening health but claims he was told he had normal symptoms and would get better.
The West Auckland woman says her 68-year-old father, who fled a conflict-scarred country 20 years ago for a better future, spent the last five days of his life in agony coughing up blood and was too weak to move, waiting for officials to say he should go to hospital.
Yesterday the country’s latest victim of the pandemic was farewelled in a restricted alert level 3 burial in accordance with the family’s Islamic faith — his wife, who also contracted Covid and needed hospital-level care only learning he had died hours beforehand.
The daughter, who does not want to be named, is critical that her father was never given the level of support needed for someone so ill, with her siblings left traumatised seeing blood gush from their father in his final moments before he died in their Glen Eden home on Wednesday.
The family is now coming to terms with the shock loss of a dearly loved parent and want changes made to where people with Covid quarantine, so no one else suffers the real-life nightmare they experienced.
The woman says from the outset the sick family relied on advice from a fragmented Covid-19 health response that allegedly never gave her father a directive to go to hospital, instead offering throat lozenges and paracetamol as treatment.
“Why are people self-isolating at home when you are so vulnerable? My dad was in his 60s. He should have been in quarantine, he should have been in hospital,” said the daughter.
“We need to rebuild the system. What we have isn’t working. You have Kiwis at home who are sick that are dying but you have well people who have travelled from overseas in MIQ quarantine.
“Why aren’t they sent home to self-isolate and put these people that are sick here in Auckland, that are struggling and in all this pain into quarantine?
“The Government needs to listen to the people and do what’s right by us. At the moment it seems like that’s not what they’re doing.”
She said Covid entered the household last month when her brother tested positive.
Despite telling health officials there were a number of vulnerable people in the home, including a woman in her 90s and a child under 10 years, he was told to self-isolate at the property and wait for public health to make contact.
Despite following the rules, all the adults in the home contracted the infection.
The woman said her mother and grandmother became so ill she took them to hospital. Her grandmother still requires oxygen but is improving.
In the meantime, her father was getting steadily worse, calling the Covid helpline and Healthline for advice.
“In the last five days he was really sick. He was really lethargic and in his bed the entire time. Because he was so tired and exhausted he couldn’t confirm that he was coughing up blood.”
She said her sister, who also contracted Covid while being the family’s sole caregiver, also called Healthline many times, as well as their local doctor.
During these calls, advice included taking lozenges for her father’s coughing fits, along with ibuprofen and paracetamol.
She claims one time when he asked if he should go to the hospital he was told that the symptoms he was experiencing were normal.
“They said if you want us we can call an ambulance but these are Covid symptoms and you’ll get better. You’re going through the second hump,” she claimed.
“My dad was always someone who wanted to do things by the book and wanted someone to tell him you need to go to hospital,” his daughter said.
“My mum and my grandma are in hospital and they’re getting treatment and they’re getting better and my dad was at home and he was suffering and in so much pain.
“He just wanted some sort of help. He wanted people to say, ‘You’re sick, you should go to hospital,’ but no one did.
“For us it feels like maybe we didn’t do enough for him.
“But we know regardless had we done things differently, had we pushed more when it’s your time it’s your time, but it’s a matter of making sure this doesn’t happen to another family.”
In response to detailed questions, the Ministry of Health said any deaths which could be Covid-19 related were fully investigated, whether they occurred at home or in a hospital setting, including the care and support provided prior to their death.
A Coronial process was now under way to determine whether these deaths might be related to the outbreak or to some other condition.
“While this process is under way, the Ministry of Health is not able to provide additional comment,” said the spokesman.
But as case numbers increased over time, an increasing number of Covid cases would be managed in their homes.
“It is not practical for every case to go into an MIQ facility. Supported isolation allows us to protect our health system and maintain capacity in our MIQ system,” he said.
“Our thoughts are very much with this man’s family and friends at what will be a stressful time.”
The family confirmed to the Herald last night that they were planning to contact the Health and Disability Commissioner for what they claimed was “the inadequate” and “next to no treatment, support and guidelines in place”.
The woman said her sister was in an “awful place” after witnessing her father die.
The woman described the heartbreaking scene of his final moments with blood gushing from their father’s mouth.
Her brother, who tried to breathe for his father until paramedics arrived, was left distraught.
“Doing CPR and not being able to get that person back and seeing all of that blood it’s very traumatising, and watching the life drain out of someone that’s so close to you.”
Meanwhile, the family were gathering to remember a man who dedicated his life to making a brighter future for his children. “My dad was an amazing person. All he did in life was for other people,” she said.
“He never had a day where he got angry or upset or even sad,” she said. “He always had a smile on his face, even if it was a terrible day, because he wanted to make sure we had a better future.”
Last week two people who had been isolating at home with Covid died.
A man in his 40s died in a Manukau apartment and a man in his 50s died on Friday at a Mt Eden property after discharging himself from hospital.
Yesterday there were 1255 people with Covid in home quarantine across 885 households in the city.