KEY POINTS

  • 17 family members fell ill after they attended the funeral of a relative who died of COVID-19
  • One of them fell and and died just days after the funeral
  • The family is urging others to follow social distancing guidelines

Multiple members of a family fell ill with the coronavirus after they attended the funeral of another family member who had died of the illness in February. They are now urging people to take social distancing seriously to prevent other families from experiencing what they are going through.

The family's ordeal began last March 13 when the extended family attended the funeral of 86-year-old Shiela Brooks, who had died from the coronavirus. At the time, there were still no strict coronavirus-restrictions in place in Britain.

Within days, Brooks’s niece who attended the funeral, 65-year-old Susan Nelson fell ill and died of suspected COVID-19 the next day. She had no underlying illnesses.

Unfortunately, only one family member was allowed to see her, so only her husband was present when she died. At the time, Nelson’s 34-year-old daughter was already feeling unwell. And because of the strict restrictions on mass gatherings, the family was no longer able to make any funeral arrangements for Nelson.

Not long after, other family members fell ill, including Nelson’s husband, her niece and 88-year-old great uncle. All in all, 17 of the family members who attended the March 13 funeral fell ill. 

As a result, the family is urging others to take social distancing seriously.

"Everyone, please follow the advice. Stay home, stay safe. Anyone who thinks they are fit and healthy, that it's just like the cold or flu, don't risk it," Nelson's son, Carl, said. "We can't have any other families to go through what we are going through at the moment. It's about getting the message out. It's about seeing the faces of loved ones and thinking this is real."

To thank the health workers who tried to save Nelson, her family has set up a Just Giving page, with the proceeds going to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity.

"If we can all just do something little that goes to them, that they can benefit from and just to say thank you, it would be great. My family are all grateful for the work they did," Carl said. "They couldn't save mum but they gave everything to do so and made her comfortable in the end."

The government's coronavirus lockdown regulations permit no more than 20 people to attend a funeral until the coronavirus infection curve is broken The government's coronavirus lockdown regulations permit no more than 20 people to attend a funeral until the coronavirus infection curve is broken Photo: AFP / Ludovic MARIN