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Coronavirus: Woman describes hearing aunt Luciana da Silva's dying breaths in call

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Luciana Viviana da Silva died just a day after becoming unwell

Luciana Viviana da Silva died just a day after becoming unwell

Maria da Silva

Maria da Silva

Luciana Viviana da Silva died just a day after becoming unwell

A relative of an East Timorese woman who died of presumed Covid-19 has described how she listened to her final breaths over a video call.

Luciana da Silva passed away earlier this month just a day after becoming ill.

Ms da Silva, who was in her 50s, lived in Dungannon and worked in the Moy Park chicken plant in the town.

In an interview with Channel 4 news on Wednesday, her niece Maria da Silva said she believed her aunt contracted the virus in the factory, although the programme pointed out it was impossible to know this for sure.

During an eight-minute slot about concerns over safety in Northern Ireland food processing plants, presenter Paraic O'Brien, said "presumed Covid-19" was cited on Ms da Silva's death certificate.

In an interview with the Irish News on Tuesday, Dermot Hawkins, head of complex at Moy Park in Dungannon, described claims by the Unite union that Ms da Silva died with coronavirus as "inaccurate and hurtful".

The Channel 4 report said that Ms da Silva was sent home from work on Saturday, May 2, after she began to feel unwell.

By Sunday night she was very ill and video-called her niece in England from her bedroom.

Maria da Silva said: "The light was off, but I could see the candle… she was praying. The breath was going down and down and I was saying, 'Calm down, breathe with me, deep in, deep out'."

The programme recounted how Maria heard the paramedics knocking on her aunt's bedroom door but that it was too late - she had already heard her aunt "slip away".

"She was calling my name… she was saying my nickname, she said it three times," she said, wiping away tears.

Her niece also said that Ms da Silva did not receive a shielding letter and that, if she had, she would have told her employers at Moy Park and "got furloughed".

She said her aunt had struggled to cope financially when she was off sick with tuberculosis two years previously and that for this reason she was reluctant to approach her employer when the pandemic struck.

Another woman, Roberta Oliveira, tearfully told the programme that Ms da Silva, who didn't have any children, was her best friend and "like a mother" and that the two things that mattered most to her were work and family.

Friends said she enjoyed working at the factory.

Moy Park has implemented a raft of safety measures in response to coronavirus, including social distancing.

Speaking of Ms da Silva, company director Ursula Lavery told the Channel 4 programme: "She is greatly missed by her colleagues here. She was a very well-liked and well-respected individual."

Belfast Telegraph