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Disabled UK woman dies from Covid-19 in Cape hospital due to ‘lack of ventilators’


Valerie Davids died from Covid-19 in the New Somerset Hospital where she was admitted after the bus she travelled in had an accident

Sylvia Davids mourns the death of her sister Valerie Davids. The British tourist passed away from Covid-19 after being admitted to the New Somerset Hospital following a car accident. Picture: Armand Hough/ANA

A SUMMER in Cape Town was supposed to provide Valerie Davids, 62, a respite from winter in Croydon, just outside London.

Instead, Davids’ ashes will leave Cape Town in an urn after a City of Cape Town Dial-a-Ride vehicle, in which she was traveling, was involved in an accident and she contracted Covid-19, dying at the New Somerset Hospital where she was admitted.

The City of Cape Town says it bears no responsibility for her death.

Wheelchair bound after a stroke, Davids had been in Cape Town with her partner Sidney Barcoo, 74, and sister Sylvia Davids from December 17 last year.

The sisters had emigrated to join their mother in the UK in 1970, but visited South Africa often and remained in touch with their Cape Town family.

They decided to head to the Waterfront on Monday, January 4 and ordered a Dial-a-Ride, the City of Cape Town’s e-hailing service which caters exclusively for the disabled.

“We wheeled her out and placed her onto the ramp and put her in the back of the van. Her wheelchair was hooked in with a safety connector. He (the driver) told her he was going to put the Dial-a-Ride safety belt on her but didn’t after he saw that she had her own safety belt,” said Sylvia.

Barcoo said they had barely driven off from where they were staying with family in Pelican Park when their driver hit a side mirror of a minibus taxi.

That incident was resolved after the minibus driver saw that no damage had been done and the three elderly visitors continued on their journey to the Waterfront.

“The driver was a ‘laggerhead’, he had no clue about driving. I’ve been driving in London for years,” said Barcoo.

But near the entrance to the tourist attraction their bus got into an accident.

Valerie Davids with one of her nieces.

According to her sister, Valerie was knocked backwards after her seatbelt came undone and one of her legs was trapped, leaving her in agony.

All three were then taken from the scene by an ambulance to the New Somerset Hospital.

“My sister’s partner came out with a damaged shoulder and I came out with back pain. We had X-rays done to ascertain if we had broken any bones,” says Sylvia.

The day after the accident, Sylvia said she was informed her sister would have an operation the next day. Despite her sister being in pain, Sylvia said she was assured by a doctor at the hospital that everything was okay.

“On Wednesday morning I was told that my sister had Covid-19, and I was told by the doctor that we should expect her to die because they didn’t have ventilation,” said Sylvia.

Later that evening the family was informed that Valerie had passed away.

Sylvia Davids (sister) and Sydney Barcoo (partner) mourn the death of Valerie Davids. Picture: Armand Hough/ANA

Western Cape Health Department spokesperson Natalie Watlington said despite what Sylvia had been told, the New Somerset Hospital had sufficient supplies of oxygen for ventilation.

“The department has a central dashboard whereby hospitals can monitor and manage their usage. As part of our contingency plans to ensure facilities have sufficient supply of oxygen, we are also daily receiving additional oxygen via tankers to augment our existing supply,” said Watlington.

The police’s provincial spokesperson Andre Traut confirmed the accident but said no arrests had been made.

“A case of reckless and or negligent driving has been opened and two injured people were admitted to hospital,” said Traut.

More than a day after being sent a list of three detailed questions, the City’s mayco member for transport, Felicity Purchase, responded: “The City has received the report of the incident and can confirm that this was a private hire which the operator is contractually entitled to, therefore not a registered user.”

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